Movie Review: Kunle Afolayan scores big with little in Roti, by Femi Idowu

Kunle Afolayan Kate Henshaw and Darimisire Afolayan

Roti is a soul-stirring drama that tells a powerful African story (about reincarnation) of a couple (Kareem, played by Kunle Afolayan and Diane, portrayed by Kate Henshaw).

It depicts the emotional and psychological strains after Diane sees the son (Roti, played by Darimisire Afolayan) she lost to a medical condition “reincarnate” after five years.

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Afolayan sets out to tell this story from the off. There is no time wasted as the viewer is immediately drawn into the movie. The first scenes are quite emotional but brilliantly depicted via top-notch acting by Henshaw and Afolayan. The pain of losing a son is felt through the screen.

As the movie progresses the viewer is led through an emotional rollercoaster served by the seasoned Henshaw. Her tears in a particular scene would melt the hardest heart. The actress masterfully portrays a grieving woman on the verge of losing her mind to hysteria.

Kareem’s mother (Omoladun Afolayan) is introduced at a point and she delivers a performance that connects grief and almost blind faith. Fathia Balogun’s portrayal of the mother of the reincarnated boy is equally flawless, likewise the hilarious character called Zebra Crossing played by Toyin Oshinaike.

Even with a smaller cast and apparently smaller budget, Roti is an upgrade on the sometimes disappointing acting in The CEO. It was shot primarily in Lagos as against the cross-country shooting of The CEO.

The screenplay is quite impressive but I noticed a few flaws:

  • Diane asked her mother-in-law a question in Yoruba then switched to English. I want to believe Kate Henshaw has lived long enough in Lagos to deliver a few lines in Yoruba.
  • I cringed when Kunle Afolayan said “return back”. The editing could have been better.
  • The lady who played the doctor pronounced X-ray as “ex stray.” Unforgiveable.
  • Afolayan usually pays attention to details but he drove without using a seat belt (Henshaw did too, beside him. This was however corrected in the next scene).

I must commend Afolayan for casting his mother and son in the movie. It must have been a risky call but it definitely paid off.

ALSO READ: Kunle Afolayan casts mum, son in new film

The best thing about this movie is the ending. It is better than some we’ve seen from the award-winning director. Throughout the movie I kept praying for an unpredictable ending and I was not disappointed.

With Roti, Afolayan has further sealed his place among elite filmmakers in Africa.

He has not looked back since coming onto the scene in Tunde Kelani’s Saworoide in 1999.

It is a movie worth seeing; a compelling tale told in 73 minutes by a master.