Date Night Movie Review - Ije (The Journey)

When it comes to deciding which Nollywood movies to watch, I can find no more excellent recommender than Myne. If she says "I'm going to look for any Nollywood movie to watch", then that's my cue to stay as far away as I can from the movie. On the other hand, if she says "There's this specific movie which I heard about that I want to watch", then I ask her to shift and make room for me beside her, because I know that it's going to be a good movie. Unfortunately for a wannabe fan like me, there are too few of the latter kind of movie.

So I was very happy when I heard that Ije, a movie that Myne had expressed a very definite interest in the past, was now available to watch. I promptly sat myself down next to her and we started watching.

The movie is about Anyanwu Opara (played by Omotola Jalade Ekeinde) who is being tried in the US for the murder of her white husband, and her sister Chioma (played by Genevieve Nnaji) who flies to the States to assist in her defence. Chioma meets a lawyer, Jalen, who agrees to defend Anyanwu, and a friendship grows between them while Jalen tries to put together a defence for Anyanwu.

I found the first half of the movie straightforward but rather slow; it seemed to me as if it would be a standard criminal case where Anyanwu would eventually be acquitted. But as events progressed, it became obvious that she had something to hide, as she was not revealing to Jalen everything that had happened in her marriage with her late husband. The pace of the movie quickened dramatically after this, and it ended in a unexpected and emotional climactic scene in court which, quite frankly, left me very moved.

One thing that felt unusual was the fact that Omotola and Genevieve were the only Nigerian actors in the main strand of the story (there were other scenes with Nigerian actors, but these were just flashbacks). Still the movie did retain a Nigerian feel, as there were occasions where Chioma was put through the airport drama of being repeatedly asked for her passport, and where she had to spell her name out for a non-Nigerian.

So I conclude that Ije was a worthwhile journey deserving of 4 stars. Now I'm hoping that I won't have to wait too long before Myne mentions that she's heard of another specific movie that's now available to watch. - Atala

Like most Nollywood movies, Ije is based on a theme, but it is better integrated into the storyline and not shoved down one's throat like some others. In Ije, two sisters must mend their relationship as well as come to terms with their past. Anya is a successful musician in Los Angeles, Chioma is a banker in Nigeria who subconciously resents her sister for abandoning her as a child to their taciturn father. Now, Anya is accused of killing her husband and producer, Michael Michino, and two other men and faces life in prison. Chioma has to put aside her petty issues in order to try and save her sister.

I really liked this production, in addition to the story, the acting, directing, and other technical components are also top-notch. It is definitely one of the best Nollywood movies I have seen, ever. And to think Chineze Anyaene was just a student when she made the movie, I look forward to even more movies from her - Myne

If you haven't watched Ije and want to, check out the movie website. It's also available as DVD and instant play on Amazon.