Black November

"Good"

Black November Review


Nigerian filmmaker Jeta Amata clearly feels passionate about the problems in his country, but despite the presence of Hollywood stars the movie is made in a style that will feel amateurish to Western audiences. Obvious screenwriting is the main problem, ramping up melodrama when political intensity is needed. Essentially, a more organic approach to storytelling, with attention to the characters instead of the themes, would have made this a much more powerful thriller.

After studying in America, 21-year-old Ebiere (Mbong Amata) returns home to her Niger Delta community just in time to witness a horrific oil-company accident in which most of her family perishes. As the most educated person in her village, she rises to a position of leadership among the rebels fighting for fairer treatment from petrol executive Tom (Mickey Rourke) and the corrupt military, which responds with relentless violence, betraying and brutalising the villagers. As she falls for rebel commander Dede (Hakeem Kae-Kazim), Ebiere becomes even more important. And things take a further turn when she's charged with murder after a protest turns fatal. Meanwhile in Los Angeles, desperate Nigerians (including Wyclef Jean and Akon) take Tom hostage along with a local reporter (Kim Basinger) to demand justice for Ebiere's plight.

Writer-director Amata made this film three years ago, then reworked it to add the L.A. sequences in an effort to make Nigeria's struggle feel more current in the context of global activism. This works to an extent, as it stirs the hot topic of terrorism into the mix. But the big action set pieces are directed and edited in a choppy way that feels undercooked. The story of desperate political activism amid heavy-handed corruption is compelling, but it's watered down by some rather soapy interpersonal plot points. Still, the film remains involving, a powerful tale of little guys standing up to forces much bigger than themselves simply in the name of what's right.

In the lead role, Mbong Amata (the filmmaker's wife) delivers an engaging performance that helps the audience understand the struggle in Ebiere's own mind, as she longs to live a normal life but feels like she can't remain quiet in the face of such rampant injustice. Kae-Kazim is charismatic as the rebel leader Dede, although his romance with Ebiere feels corny and underdeveloped. Meanwhile, the Hollywood heavyweights lend their clout to the screen, although aside from Rourke they're little more than extended cameos, which is a shame for the usually superb Anne Heche and Vivika A. Fox. Yes, it'll take a much better film than this to raise interest in the situation in Nigeria. For starters, how many Westerners know that Nigeria has a larger population than Russia?



Black November

Facts and Figures

Genre: Dramas

Run time: 95 mins

In Theaters: Friday 7th December 2012

Budget: $12.5M

Distributed by: Entertainment One Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

IMDB: 6.1 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Jeta Amata

Producer: Jeta Amata, Wilson Ebiye, Ori Ayonmike, Dede Mabiaku, Hakeem Kae-Kazim, Adebayo Sorungbe

Starring: as Timi, Ibrahim Aba-Gana as Judge, as Opuwei, Christina Alexandria as Hostage, Fred Amata as Gideon White, Mbong Amata as Ebiere Perema, Zack Amata as Chief Kuku, Asenshion Amun as Hostage, Awuese Awunde as Eloho, Robert Ballentine as Tom, as Kristy, Ivar Brogger as Bellamy, Jay M. Brooks as Soldier (as Jay Brooks), Jenifer Brougham as Jenifer Brougham, Nathin Butler as Jackson, as Tom Hudson, as Barbara, Vivica A. Fox as Angela, as Timi Gabriel, as Kate Summers

Also starring:

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