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Too Much, Not Enough: An Ode to Abuja

Words by Aisha Bima

The film explores the relationship between a young man and a young woman as they go through the different phases of a relationship

Too Much, Not Enough is a 7-minute art film by the art collective, FriendsMake. It is the first project from the Abuja based collective. The film explores the relationship between a young man and a young woman as they go through the different phases of a relationship, which moves in a quick crescendo then slowly declines until they split up.

I watch this film for the first time at a screening hosted by the collective at The Cube Café in Abuja. It is shown to an intimate crowd seated on mats and plastic chairs in the garden, right after sunset via projector. A slight stench from a nearby gutter, and the flittering of mosquitoes make the setting a bit uncomfortable. We are first shown a Q and A session with the actors where they discussed what making the film was like; and the film follows. Once it starts, the discomfort almost fades and everyone is captivated, till the end, which is followed by a solid round of applause. 

“With eyes like carousels…” a female narrator starts, as the film opens with a masterful drone shot of the couple moving in a synchronised manner on opposite sides if the tennis court, then a drone shot of a bed on an empty field. The next scene is of an intense tennis game which is interspersed by shots of hands grabbing each other and sheets, insinuating sexual intercourse with the intensity of each simultaneously increasing until it reaches a climax, allowing us to see the first signs of serious acting in the fulfilled smirk of the young man played by the Musician, Brum3h. 

The film continues with some more beautiful and well referenced cinematography, and colourful fashion choices as the couple settle into their blossoming relationship. The relationship reaches a peak which is indicated by a gorgeous silhouette shot of the couple dancing on top of a hill as the sun sets behind them.

The second half of the film chronicles the descent of the relationship as the couple begin to grow apart. This is also subtly represented by the switch to darker, earthier tones in the couples’ wardrobe. The acting in this half of the film is a bit below par, as the actors especially Adanna Adaka struggle to properly convey the emotions that would’ve elevated those scenes. The technical constraints of the equipment also begin to unravel in these mostly indoor scenes with a considerable drop in picture quality and not so great lighting. Basically every scene in this half looks like it was shot on an iPhone. However, this loss is made up for with very creative framing.

One of the biggest strengths of the film was the music, a slightly ominous score pitched just right to the intensity of the scenes, and successfully draws the viewers’ attention to the film.

The beautiful and engaging visuals were another strength of the film, especially in the first half where I believe the Cinematographer really got to show off their skills. In the second half, inadequacy of equipment and other technical cracks begin to show, however with some brilliant framing they manage to work around these constraints and deliver some memorable shots. They also depict Abuja visually in one of the best and subtlest ways I have come across. They showcase the city honestly and with familiarity, capturing its essence while leaving out all the typical landmarks. The colour grading of the Abuja harmattan is also one of the truest to form that I’ve seen. Overall the acting in the film was quite decent for first time actors (Brum3h and Adanna Adaka) however the chemistry between them was quite choppy in some crucial scenes. They also missed some key opportunities to display a deep range of emotion.

The film was narrated in spoken word, that seemingly simple but actually very tricky medium that lures a lot of filmmakers into a trap. And these filmmakers fell into that trap, as the decent poem being narrated wasn’t neither audible nor vigorous enough and failed to achieve the fusion with the beautiful visuals that is required to nail the spoken word narrative. I believe a dialogue or even just the score with no words, would’ve delivered a richer experience.

At the post screening discussion, you could tell that the film definitely had a positive effect on the viewers from the volume of questions the audience had. Many praised the movie with a Lady delivering a heartfelt, passionate and positively rousing remarks about the film. A member of the collective described the film as “a sort of intimate ode to the city” and even with all its flaws, I agree. The film does far more than it set out to do, with the story being a good analogy of the relationship a lot of young people have with the city; and the film itself, a reflection of its underground art scene. Its strengths showcase the talent, passion and determination of the scene. In its flaws, it shows how it is still a diamond in the rough in need of competition, mentorship and investment. And by existing, it makes a strong declaration that this fresh, young, adventurous but shy scene from the Capital city is here to stay.

Author avatar
Fifo Adebakin