“Being Anabel” is ultimately about the consequences of greed. And much like director Okey-Zubelu Okoh’s other films, “Weeping Soul” and “Test of Kindness,” poverty and choices are at its core.
Okoh’s 2019 film follows the story of identical twins, Annabel and Ema. And executive producer Oma Nnadi plays a dual role.
Annabel and Ema were separated after the death of their parents. While Annabel was raised by a middle class family in Abuja, Ema stayed with her aunt in Lagos. Annabel is an arts curator. She works for Kenomar Art Gallery. She also has a great love in Maro (Desmond Elliot). But she has a big secret which is eating her up. Ema on the contrary has had a hard-knock life. The only good thing in her life is her friend Joro (Alexx Ekubo).
On a sunny day, Joro’s jalopy leaves he and Ema stranded. Through the incident, they are exposed to Annabel’s demise. Understandably, Ema wants to mourn. But Joro is an opportunist. He believes ‘everything happens for a reason’. So he convinces Ema to impersonate Annabel for quick bucks. It’ll enable them settle their debts. Ema accepts and goes along with the plan. But when they’ve made enough money, Ema does not want out. Not because she is carried away by the good life. But because she wants to understand her sister better. You can relate with her reasoning but its dangerous.
Okoh’s film is not an original idea. With a handful cast he tells his story. Ken Erics plays the mysterious Nosa. He is a doctor from Annabel’s dark past. With the aid of decent sound effects, Okoh creates reasonable suspense. But as usual, the fight scene is not up to scratch. Nnadi also pulls-off the titular Annabel and her estranged sister effectively. She makes both characters come to life. The enlightened and temperamental Annabel versus the deprived and timid Ema. And after playing an important lead role in “Power of 1,” Ekubo is once more on familiar territory. A comic, dubious lover. We can’t count how many times Ekubo has played his role. He is natural at it. And dishes out punchy one-liners in Pidgin English which we have to admit are enjoyable.
As far as production values go, that was not the focus. While the locations are modest there are a few slip-ups. For instance, Nnadi’s make-up smears Elliot’s face. It is absurd but the producer ChinnyLove Eze obviously lets it slide. As expected, the twins have different character traits. These are evident when Ema goes on dates with Maro. Or shows up at Annabel’s job. Consequently, we learn that Annabel can’t drive. Yet, she’s driving when we first see her in the movie. Okoh also takes a leaf from a famous scene in B.B Sasore’s “God Calling.” Regrettably, it is a bad copy as the visual effects in fall short of quality.
Giving a bit more thought to the film’s implausible set-up would have made all the difference. But after all said, “Being Annabel” is watchable. The comic relief will make you overlook the apparent goofs and plot holes.
“Being Annabel” started showing in theatres on 8 March.
P.S. As the credits rolled, the lady behind me in the movie theatre sighed and said,
‘We should only pay N1,000 for Nollywood films.’
Directed by: Okey-Zubelu Okoh
Cast includes: Oma Nnadi, Desmond Elliot, Alexx Ekubo, Yvonne Jegede-Fawowe, Padita Agu, Ken Erics.