REEL Review – Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) (2020)

Director: Arie Esiri, Chuko Esiri | 1h 56mins | Drama

Two people living deep in the heart of Nigeria attempt to leave and make a new life for themselves abroad. With a constant string of obstacles in their way, both Mofe (Jude Akuwudike) and Rosa (Temiloluwa Ami-Williams) struggle to find a way out of Lagos.

If Farewell Amor (2020) was the personal and individualistic approach to adjusting to a new life, then Arie and Chuko Esiri’s newest film is a soft and broader look at the those who can’t make it to their new destination. Set in the vast city of Lagos it follows two people, separately, working hard everyday to make a better life for themselves and their family, only to be confronted constantly with immovable obstacles.

The film separates the two characters by chaptering their stories, named after the places they so long to be in. The first is named ‘Spain’ and is about Mofe, a man working two jobs on the cusp of getting his visa until he comes home to find his Sister and her children dead in the house. What follows is a devastating journey that sees him lose his money just to cover the cost of those that are dead. First is the hospital fees, then the funeral fees and even when he gets a shred of hope in the form of property, his rich and selfish Father takes it from under him.

Mofe is played beautifully deadpan by Jude Akuwudike, he’s a character that has things taken away from him so quickly that he doesn’t even have the time to mourn the passing of his family. The film’s slow pace allows us to build the frustration with Mofe, and when he finally blows and loses his job, it’s a well earned emotional response that the film keeps as it’s only major one. After all, this is a film that is stuck in time with it’s characters, and the brief outburst is earned because of the film’s withheld emotional response to devastation.

The stories become chapters in the same story, unique threads in a tapestry that’s as large as a city and the Director’s achieve this through a looseness to their script, and cinematography that captures the sun-kissed beauty of the city and it’s liveliness.

The next story features a girl named Rosa, in a chapter named ‘Italy’. A beautiful woman who’s only priority is looking after her sister who is pregnant. Her dream is move to Italy with her sister in order to start a better life for the both, but just like Mofe, Lagos is a financial beast that can’t help but feed on the wellbeing of the people living there. The difference in Rosa’s story is the villainisation she receives by the upper-class because of her means of surviving, and also the added layer of surviving as female in a world that objects them. Both stories have an element of individualism, but the director’s are incredibly observant of the city that surrounds them.

Mofe and Rosa are somewhat connected, we see glimpses of them in each others stories. Whether it be crossing paths at the Doctor’s office or even Rosa’s sister having a sweet conversation with Mofe at his work station. But the beauty of the film is it’s ability to intertwine everyone into one singular place. The stories become chapters in the same story, unique threads in a tapestry that’s as large as a city and the Director’s achieve this through a looseness to their script, and cinematography that captures the sun-kissed beauty of the city and it’s liveliness.

There are some moments when the film feels a little too static, lingering a little too long on it’s reality despite it’s point coming across loud and clear, but Eyimofe is so delicately executed it really has little effect on the end product. Tender, devastating and heartwarming; Arie and Chuko have captured the essence of struggle and perseverance.

Rating: 4 out of 5.

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