I’m not always a big fan of films packed with star studded casts because I feel the storyline is often altered to cater to the star. But I get that it is necessary from a promotion standpoint to attract a wider audience to the big screens. But I’m still not a fan of this practice.
Even though Lara and Beat is packed full of some of Nollywood big names, I like the fact that it mixes this with some new actors, albeit, Seyi Seyi and Vector who play lead roles as Lara and Sam Gomez respectively, are already successful Afrobeats/Afro-Rap artists in their own rights and can’t exactly be described as “new”.
What’s it about?
Lara is a selfish and bratty snob (acted in an over-the-top manner by Seyi Shay), who along with her contrastingly modest sister, Dara (brilliantly portrayed by Somkele), discover that their money pit of a company that they inherited from their parents is in trouble and about to go into receivership.
They are suddenly evicted from their mansion and are forced to live with their former house help, Patience (played by Chioma Akpotha). Lara then goes through a life changing experience through this ordeal and they get they live happily ever after. The end.
The story is all a little bit far fetched but erm.. okay.
Oh, there’s also some on-screen romance between Lara and her former driver (Vector) who was totally invisible to her when she was rich but somehow turns out to be a rich kid moonlighting as a driver and music producer. Throw in some corporate deception drama and of course, “the beat” – The music soundtrack part of the movie, which is actually really good.
The storyline is a little bit of a stretch but some of the actors were able to make it an interesting film. Nigerians are naturally dramatic so every scene comes with its own flair and drama that only Nigerians know how to pull off.
Some scenes and characters though, were totally unnecessary, such as DJ Exclusive and his on-screen mother’s characters; even though the wonderful Shaffy Bello lends her exaggerated facial expression and faux-British accent to add comedy and spice to otherwise unnecessary scenes.
In this film, and like in a lot of other Nollywood production, the producers spend too much time trying to set the scene rather than just tell the story. I am still unsure what the main point of the story is? Is it the character transformation Lara goes through, the duality of Dara as a strong business woman or what?
I hate to be overly critical about African films but one way I chose to approach this film was to decide what genre or category it would fall into? It just has so many sub-stories and that made it difficult to categorize. This is also indicative of films that have no set structure.
All that said, I am glad to have watched this movie, as it had its moments. My breakout stars from this were Somkele Idhalama (Dara) and Lala Akindoju (Tonye). Their characters felt well balanced and a bit more complete with the right nuances from a tough script. They could easily have been the two sisters the film was trying to portray in the first place.
Produced by Biola Alabi Media
Directed by Tosin Coker
Screen play by John Arthur-Ingram, Kay I. Jegede, Pearl Osibu
Deborah Oluwaseyi (Seyi Shay) – Lara
Somkele Idhalama -Dara
Chioma Akpotha – Aunty Patience
Kemi ‘Lala’ Akindoju – Tonye
Chinedu Ikedieze – Big Chi
Olanrewaju Ogunmefun ‘Vector’ – Sal Gomez
Uche Jumbo (Fadekemi West), Shaffy Bello ( Jide’s Mum), DJ Exclusive (Jide),
Wale Ojo (Uncle Tunde), Adeyemi Okanlawon (Cashflow), Bimbo Manuel (Uncle Richard)
Lara and the Beat is currently showing on Netfix and I give this a moving rating of 4/10.
As always let me know what you think in the comments section below.