BY IFE OLUJUYIGBE
May I just say, right now, that Bimbo Ademoye is one extremely underrated actor. She is one of a few people who know how to transform a script into magic. She is amazing to watch, and her versatility is astounding. And as is my nature to do when I see something special, I am rolling out my drums and totally rooting for her.
One thing Backup Wife does to you is take you through a wide array of emotions. While you’d find yourself laughing so often, you’d also be really moved, nearly teary, very embarrassed and thoroughly annoyed in places. Backup Wife serves you a plate of balanced diet without even trying.
Tade’s wife, Betty, leaves him. He is broken, but she wants a life different from what he offers, and so he painfully lets her go. He calls his mother in his hometown and asks her to get him a rebound wife from there. She sends him Wura, a minimally-educated unexposed village girl, who is more than glad to be ‘Uncle Tade’s’ new wife.
Tade is mostly disgusted by Wura’s lack of refinement, even though she is impressively domesticated. He eats her food and sleeps with her, but he doesn’t want to be associated with her for any reason. When his writer neighbor, Tilda, meets Wura, she immediately has a connection with her for her simplicity and willingness to learn and begins to give her books and introduce her to the world of the internet. Wura is excited and learns the basics, while also researching better ways to make Tade happy. What she doesn’t realize is that Tade has a plan to send her back to the village in a few days.
Despite being so familiar, Backup Wife brings together a believable, thoroughly enjoyable story that is easy to relate to. We watch naïve Wura grow from who she is when she first appears on the scene to who she becomes when the film ends, a woman a little more refined, aware of her environment and still as kind and endearing as she always was.
Backup Wife digs up societal issues while running into a few clichés. One of these is the assumption that simplicity and naivety translate to good character. While it isn’t always so, we like that Wura is because it makes our story sweeter. We also get to examine the concept of homeliness being a major indication of being a good wife. While this isn’t bad, it takes more than a nicely cooked meal to keep a man. It is commendable how the creators of this story build Wura’s character to show that her traits are exclusive to her, but she seems a little too perfect, which works, strangely so, to help the story and the climax towards the end where she says “Take care of yourself” even when she’s hurting.
One of the highlights of this film is how Tilda takes Wura under her wings and teaches her. When she asks, “So what do you do all day?” and Wura says “I sleep and watch TV”, you feel for her, and want to reach into the television and give Tilda a hug for asking such an important question. Another high point is when Wura says, “I am a village girl, but I have sense.” These scenes resonate with you because you immediately can think of a Wura in your environment or life’s journey, and connect. Wura’s mentality on ‘feeling lucky’ to be married to Uncle Tade from the city is highly flawed, but you understand it, and maybe even excuse it as this is a very common phenomenon in our world. However, this makes you question her whole idea of love. Did she fall in love with him as her mother said she would with time, or did she mistake her adoration of him and his high status, for love? Backup Wife gets you talking.
Bimbo Ademoye is excellent as Wura. I am not sure any other actor could have played her better. She wears this character well, and every part of her body moves accordingly. Funmi Eko, who plays Tilda, is just as remarkable. I began to take note of this actor after her brief role in All Shades of Wrong, and it was so easy to tell she is great at what she does. Seun Akindele does a great job as Tade, but Bamike Olawumi (BamBam) is way too theatrical for her role as Betty.
Backup Wife is a brilliant film. It is not a perfect film, but it totally grips you, until you get to the end which is quite abrupt. The humor is seamless and unforced, and because it is so good, you forget to check for any technical errors. You just want to enjoy the film in peace. It is also commendable how much attention is paid to the little details like Wura’s seemingly ‘woke’ hairstyle. With the peeking strands of the low-quality weave-on at the top of her head, you can tell she doesn’t know better.
Backup Wife was written by Yinka Ogun, produced by Uduak Isong Oguamanam and directed by Sobe Charles. It is proof that a good story, mixed with other good elements, can create fireworks.