Stars: Material, Lateef Lovejoy, Zeeza Sadiq
Director: Michael Ibiayo
Running Time:84 minutes
Release Date: 3rd October 2014
Michael Ibiayo’s Urban Rhythm is in essence a Nollywood film full of Nollywood talent, shit in the Nollywood style, but with a twist: Set in the London area of Dagenham, amongst the London African community. The story centres on the music artist Material, as he places himself under the managerial administration of former lawyer Sean, to make it big in the rising Afrobeats arena.
To tell you the truth, its very hard to say much about Urban Rhythm without spoiling the film, since storywise the film is incredibly slim. However it will come to that in good time, the good points about the film should be addressed first: Typically of a film that is centred on music and the business of such, the music score is just brilliant. Every single song sung in this film will have you bopping even in your seats, and if an official soundtrack album is released, allow me to be the first to recommend it.
The majority of the acting, especially for a Nollywood film is surprisingly decent, although there are many moments where it is hard to tell whether the dialogue is serious or parody. In particular is Lateef Lovejoy as Sean sporting an American accent. To be frank, there is no real purpose for it, and it does feel overdone at times, but it succeeds in giving the film memorable elements, and even a personality.
The film itself is shot in the typical Nollywood style, with the choppy editing and the sound quality that alters with every different cut. Although it gives the film a homemade feeling, especially for Africans it’s hard to think that it will still be accepted by a British audience.
Speaking of hard to accept, the plot of Urban Rhythm is so incredibly barebones that its very difficult to give a brief overview of the film without going into spoiler territory. There’s no real drama or any challenge in the narrative. There is a conflict, but it happens too late into the film to be of any real effect. There are so many plot threads that either don’t seem to go anywhere or have too little an impact on the story.
In particular, the ending feels so inconclusive that it should not have been the ending at all. Personally, that should have been the halfway point, where certain characters are at their peak, but set up for the possible fall, especially due to the conflict mentioned earlier.
Because of this, Urban Rhythm becomes less of a film and more of an experiment, not only to showcase the potential talent in the British African community, but also to see if Nollywood has a place in the British cinema. The incredibly ambiguous ending which just begs for a sequel, adds to the notion that this whole work is a pilot.
With that in mind, I give Urban Rhythm a merciful 3 out of 5. Despite the unfinished feel, there is a lot of potential, and I believe that a sequel would raise the quality to a higher bar, but right now as a standalone movie, there is too little for me to credit. But the little that exists is certainly gold.