Movie Title: A Young Time Ago
Release Date: 1 September, 2023
Director: Tolu Awobiyi
Runtime: 1 hour, 51 minutes
Cast: Timini Egbuson, Wale Ojo, Daniel Etim-Effiong, Sophie Alakija, Mofehintola Jebutu, Sandra Okunzuwa, Tolu Osaile
For quite some years, Nollywood has tapped into creating a wide array of content via movies and TV series.
This is in the sense that gone are the days when viewers relied on family dramas and epic films to escape reality temporarily; now, we have genres like romantic comedy, thrillers, and sci-fi becoming top-mind content ideas across production companies.
Romantic movies are a recurring genre showcased on streaming platforms and cinema screens. Judging by the emotional whirlwind such movies take viewers on, it’s safe to say we are living for it.
A few good examples would be the Royal Hibiscus Hotel, Love in the Pandemic, and Kambili: The Whole 30 Yards.
While romantic movies are known for their cheesy storylines and undeniable chemistry between the lead actors, they must also possess a vital element: fresh insights. With over a thousand romantic films, audiences have become very familiar with the storylines and patterns: boy meets girl; they fall in love but try it; something threatens their passion, but they come back together. This story progression pattern cuts across romantic films, making it essential for a producer to ask, “What makes this story special?”
Unfortunately for the 2023 movie A Young Time Ago, it appeared that minimal scrutiny or pondering was done regarding its premises, as it offered nothing new in its plot and strongly reminded viewers of old Nollywood films about tertiary institutions.
However, the above keeps the impeccable casting choices, production design, and cinematography exhibited in the film.
The first scene opens with a woman walking hurriedly out of the house. Then, we are introduced to Tayo, who we see talking to his boss. Uncle Gee informs him of a lady, Ukara, who is coming by to visit him.
Ukara arrives and starts talking to Tayo. Their conversation leads to Tayo narrating his love story.
The producers show a flashback scene of Tayo as a young adult in the university. He is very close to Kemi and likes her. However, Kemi is oblivious to this fact.
One day, a singer named Magic came to their school. Kemi has a crush on Magic and agrees to go to his party and ditches Tayo. Unfortunately, she gets raped at the party.
After several days of silence, she tells Tayo about the incident. In a rage, Tayo teams up with a cult group to exact revenge. Magic is captured and shot while trying to escape.
Following Magic’s death and her father’s orders, Kemi leaves the country. This strains her relationship with Tayo, who is soon apprehended for the murder of Magic.
Their paths soon cross, leaving a glimmer of hopeful love.
Without a doubt, A Young Time Ago boasts a line-up of incredible songs. The soundtrack is superb. The selected songs offered viewers a sense of nostalgia and were not distracting.
The production design is also applaudable, as the choice to execute an accurate visual representation of a university environment was well made.
Long ago, we saw actors bare their souls through their characters. The casting choice was spot on, as the similarity between older and younger Tayo is uncanny, especially regarding their mannerisms.
The film needed clarification about the message it was trying to convey. While it’s very understandable that the film preached the moral message of rape being the scourge, the introduction of supernatural elements did not add up. In the end, it is revealed that Uncle Gee is an angel, but it’s not fully fleshed out to see how that plays out in the story. While we get that he is the one who, in a way, changed Tayo’s life, his sudden revelation is hard to believe. The writer could have helped by providing more hints about him beyond the man in a suit we saw at Magic’s party.
The acting performances from some of the cast were also flat. The morning scene, where a group of friends were lamenting what to do with Kemi, did not convey the desired effect it should have. The characters had an almost blank expression, making buying into whatever they were selling hard.
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Finally, we are down to storytelling. A young time ago, used romantic clichés a lot: boy in love with a girl who doesn’t notice him, girl falls for a bad boy who wants only to use him, the boy makes a sacrifice for a girl, boy spends his entire life waiting for a girl even though he is not sure if he ever meets her, the girl comes back, and they live happily ever after. The elements that make A Young Time Ago stand out from romantic films are the theme of rape, even though it was a generic approach, just as the introduction of the supernatural elements did not add up.
5/10. A Young Time Ago might not offer a fresh perspective on telling stories, but it will take you back to the years when record label Mohit singers dominated the airwaves.
A young time ago is streaming on Prime Video.
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