The one adjective to describe “This Lady Called Life” after streaming it on Netflix is “romantic”. Yet it is not all joy and laughter but at times, a saddening reminder that children suffer abuse not from strangers but their parents.
With a running time of 1 hour and 58 minutes, you might question what story Kayode Kasum had to tell that was worth almost two hours. So when you hit the play button, you might expect a few boring scenes. Although the plot of “This Lady Called Life” moved gradually, rather than skip scenes, you might find yourself pausing the movie each time there is a distraction. It is the result of good lead characters, Bisola Aiyeola and Efe Iwara, who embodied their roles, and the many moments the director was able to help the audience get into the thoughts of one of its main characters.
“This Lady Called Life” follows the story of Aiye (Aiyeola), an aspiring chef and single mother on her journey to finding self and fulfilling her dreams. But at its core is a mother who fears that history is repeating itself all over again, and the only way she can guard against it, or protect her daughter, is by abuse.
Tina Mba is a good actress, yet one must give credit where credit is due. The film’s writer Toluwani Obayan must be particularly praised for that kitchen scene which released a mixed bag of emotions; pain for Aiye as her mother (Mba) hurled insults, concern for her mother’s mental health as one tried to understand why she was that bitter, and respect for Obinna (Iwara), Aiye’s love interest, who stood up for Aiye.
The writer also does well to tell a story that paints stepfathers in a positive light. Wale Ojo plays Aiye’s stepfather and contrary to popular beliefs, this stepfather dotes on his stepdaughter, loves and respects her much more than her biological mother even could. Meanwhile, Aiye has a younger sister, Toke (Jemima Osunde) whose timing is always wrong and inconsiderate and could cause Aiye to miss out on opportunities to better her life. Chef Miyonse of Big Brother Naija fame also makes a cameo.
By all standards a modest production, this movie could have done with a bit more finesse, especially with regard to the cooking competition. However, the many heartwarming moments made up for the areas in the production that were not up to scratch. Ultimately, a good story always wins. In the end, “This Lady Called Life” is a story about abuse, forgiveness and sacrificial love.