The Figurine...Araromire

This was the official website of the 2009 African film, The Figurine...Araromire. The title of the movie is The Figurine, and it’s subtitled Araromire. The film was first released at the 2009 Rotterdam International Film Festival and was met with wide critical acclaim. It received ten nominations and won five awards at the 6th Africa Movie Academy Awards, including the awards for Best Picture, Heart of Africa, Achievement in Cinematography and Achievement in Visual EffectsOn 31 July 2014.

The content below is from the site's 2009 archived pages and other outside sources. 

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REVIEW from Iyemishi.com

The story was written by Kemi Adesoye and produced & directed by Kunle Afolayan who aswell stars in the film as one of the main protagonists.
The fineness of this film is first seen in the lineup of the notable cast. Also staring are;

Ramsey Noah,
Omoni Oboli
Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi
Jide Kosoko
Wale Adebayo
Muraina Oyelami

The setting of course is Nigeria and the languages are English and Yoruba. The genre is thriller characterized by a strong spiritual theme spiced with a bit of romance. The run time is 2hours.

I missed the premiere of this film in Lagos and had since longed to get a grip. My curiosity got quenched recently when a friend brought an ‘original’ copy for our viewing.

Viewers are led into this classic movie in a folktale about the village- Araromire. The village has been named after the deity whose custodian- the priest she commands to cast her spirit and likeness in a mysterious figurine carved from the bark of a cursed tree. Araromire is neither good nor evil; for anyone that comes in contact with her shall flourish for seven years and for another seven years that follows, Araromire becomes wrathful, unleashing terror and destruction on whoever has her in custody. It is unfortunate that even the priest couldn’t escape the adverse side of the deity. His lifeless body is found floating at the river just at the beginning of the next seven years.

The villagers get angry at a deity that would kill its own custodian. They rebuke Araromire and set the idol ablaze, after which a thunderous rain begins and they all flee.

Femi (Ramsey Noah) meets Mona (Omoni Oboli) again at the car park. The duo has come to board a bus going to Araromire where they have been posted for the NYSC. Femi’s deep affection for Mona begins to rekindle even as a reciprocal feeling is obvious about Mona. While they both sit beside each other in the bus, Mona finds Femi’s shoulder the better place to place her head. She sleeps off and would circle her arms around Femi’s- more tightly. Femi however remains calm but steal peeps into the face of the sleeping beauty.

Shola (Kunle Afolayan) would pass for one spoilt brat. He has graduated with a 3rd class degree in Archeology and for three years he refuses to be mobilized for the NYSC scheme. He despises wearing ‘that khaki’ and instead he sets out to look for a job.

His rudeness sends him out of a job interview after he has been advised to get the NYSC certification, and that the company wouldn’t consider his type for employment.

Shola returns to his Dean at school (Muraina Oyelami) who hushes Shola that he knows him, when the former tries to introduce himself. His dean gladly signs his NYSC clearance paper and asks where he has been posted.  Shola tells him,  and the dean brings out a book from his shelve and opens the page where the historical account was given about the goddess- and where Shola has been posted- Araromire. Unfortunately, he omits the other part of the folklore.

Two days to the closing of camp, unserious Shola arrives. He bribes the barking security man to have his way in. Shola is that bad boy.

While he wanders about getting himself registered, he sees Femi. He grabs him from the back and both are glad to see each other again. Femi also tells Shola that Mona was posted to Araromire too, but sadly the damsel is at the clinic where she was taken when she fainted on the parade ground. Femi however expects to see Shola’s affectionate care about Mona’s state but hell no Shola shows but a little concern and proceeds to where he was going.

Shola a womanizer perhaps doesn’t really love his old time girlfriend Mona the way he (Femi) does. This is the obvious thought that occupies Femi’s mind, and it sets the basis for the movie.

Femi walking abreast his Friend Shola as the corps members traverse through a thick forest in an endurance trek suddenly became weary and struggles with his breath. He is asthmatic. Femi staggers to sit on a log and Shola follows him caringly while others march on. Femi brings out his inhaler and while he revived himself, Shola brings out his own cigarette and starts to smoke. Later, Shola and his friend rise to trace the source of a strange sound.

Suddenly, heavy rain starts to pour and for the sake of Femi who’s allergic to cold- Shola quickly cuddles him up and both shield themselves in an old and abandoned shrine that is close to them.
It is there Shola finds the figurine wrapped in a dusty wooden cradle.

At the camp fire night, Mona comes to sit with Femi while Shola is busy in the gyration. Mona gleefully shares the good but sad news with Femi- that his friend Shola has proposed marriage to her. And she wouldn’t even hide it that she is already carrying Shola’s baby- this gets Femi’s heart pieced. Yet he remains a man of no words.

On their return from the NYSC; Femi meets his ailing father now on his feet when Lara his beautiful kid sister rushes at the door to welcome him. He also gets a blue chip job and has to travel for international assignment.
Shola marries Mona and their lives take the most beautiful form.

Seven years later, Femi returns home and is warmly welcomed in a party at Shola’s luxurious residence. Shola gets shocked to see his friend has changed when Femi nods that he wouldn’t mind a cigar too. At the party Mona tries to hook her friend Linda (Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi) with Femi. Linda a successful fashion designer eventually falls in love with Femi. She also did catch Shola in one of his lecherous outings, but Femi cautions her not to expose his friend.

Suddenly things begin to take another turn, a negative turn. Femi lost his job and his father and Shola’s business starts to sink.

These sudden calamities is later traced to the figurine innocently standing on Shola’s shelve inside his study. It is when Mona visits their old professor (Muraina Oyelami), that she gets to hear about the other seven years of bad luck that follows the preceding years of abundance.

And after the idol seems indestructible; the two friends embark on a journey to Araromire in order to return the seemingly wicked deity.

This is where the story begins and leaves the viewer gasping! You’ll be shocked at the twist!
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Please, at this moment can we all rise to applaud the cast, the crew and most especially our very own Kunle Afolayan! This is coming at a time that the Nollywood market is being flooded with story-less stories.

The cinematography is nothing less than perfect. One shouldn’t doubt Kunle, of course he is a product of Mainfraime(Uncle Tunde Kelani), you remember Araparegangan?

The characters are well built that a touch of reality shows especially in their dialogues. Whaat! I particularly love Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi’s role as Linda- that babe is good! Femi (Ramsey Noah) has been a good actor- no be today. I really enjoy Femi’s conversations with his father. Kunle’s role as the bad boy is excellently okay. I like the way he smokes and chew gums during their NYSC camping. Mona’s acting leaves me not to believe that she is actually acting. She is demn too real! I laugh with her and I did cry with her.

The props and lightening are good. The pictures are clear and the sound is good but could be better. Shola’s beach house in that film is gbam! The costume is perfectly excellent. I love Femi and Shola’s waistcoats at the latter’s wedding.

The film’s cultural relevance is so profound and its status in the social sphere is remarkable. The historical essence is highly applaudable too.

The sound track is sweet and I particularly enjoy K1’s music coming from the background during the party at Shola’s house.

The beginning of the film is wonderfully evocative of the three weeks in NYSC camp; the drilling, the aluta songs, ‘those babes’ and all- you’ll definitely hang up for a while, reminiscing.

The dean Muraina Oyelami is a famous Nigerian painter who really helped a lot with his paintings. The setting of his office alone is bem. I love the old books and wooden statues that grace the professor’s office.

The idea of Lagos in this film is overwhelmingly overwhelming. I was like is this our Lagos? It’s a good one to sell on the international scene. It portrays the realness of the African society; of values and of sights.

However, a few flaws were observed.

Kunle tells us that Nigerian graduates are first posted to a village for the NYSC. This is totally wrong. It should have been a state where the village Araromire becomes the place of primary assignment for the protagonists.

When Shola gets to the camp and sees his friend Femi- the way they greet is too cold. It is as if Femi was expecting Shola and I couldn’t see the touch of reality in that scene, holding to the fact in the realness that describes major parts of the film.

It is not also clear if Femi and Mona are classmates with Shola. We are made to know that Shola gets mobilized for NYSC three years after he has graduated. Literally one would think Shola was in his finals when Femi and Mona were in their first year. This perhaps questions the friendship of the two guys. A flash back of their school days would have made well for clarity.
Then, are they trying to tell us that Shola becomes one great egghead after school, looking closely at the well equipped study he has in his house?

Above all, the story focuses on a love triangle, friendship, loyalty, and betrayal.
The Figurine is a film you’ll find in my archive under the label ‘extremely fantastic.’
And your eyes may never forgive you if you don’t get to see this exceptionally brilliant movie.
Once again I rise to take a bow for Kunle Afolayan.

 

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REVIEW from StripesArticles.com

Directed by Kunle Afolayan
Produced by Kunle Afolayan
 Written by Kemi Adesoye

Starring
Ramsey Nouah
Kunle Afolayan
Omoni Oboli
Funlola Aofiyebi-Raimi
Jide Kosoko
Wale Adebayo
Muraina Oyelami
Music by Eilam Hoffman
Running time: 121minutes
Country: Nigeria
Reviewer: Chilaka Ngozi
Rating: 18
The Figurine: Heaven’s sent

Kunle Afolayan again showed his sense of creativity in this blockbuster movie he titled The Figurine.

The plot of the movie is about two friends while serving at a National Youth Service Corps camp, find a mystical sculpture in an abandoned shrine in the forest, and one of them decides to take the artwork home. Unknown to them, the sculpture is from the Yoruba goddess Araromire which bestows seven years of good luck on anyone who encounters it, and after the seven years have expired, seven years of bad luck follow. The lives of the two friends begin to change for good, as they become successful and wealthy businessmen. However, after seven years things start to change for bad.

The movie had a wonderful intro with a short story of how the sculpture Araromire  came about. This gives the viewer a clear picture of what the movie is all about. Nice picture quality of flashback.

The set designer did a fantastic job as the professors office really looked like a history professors office with the use of appropriate props like relics, books and artworks to suit the scene.

Scenes that were shot in the youth service camp were commendable. It seemed very real. The writer of the script, Kemi Adesoye made use of the balance, imbalance, and balance method. In the first balance, we saw how the figurine that was the centre of the plot came about and in the imbalance, we saw how the chaos started when everything that was said of Araromire started to manifest after the 7years of abundance came 7years of destruction where everything started going wrong, the was the final balance where they seeked resolution for the problems in which was suspense, mysterious and unpredictable. The amount of people who participated in the burn fire night were very few compared to the population that was seen during the orientation in camp. The producer would have invited more cast to the scene to make it real. Graduates who have experienced what an NYSC orientation camp looks like would disagree with this scene in respect to how scanty it was. The scene looked like it was a cult activity.

Jide Kosoko who played the role of the chairman of the company Femi works for was like undermining to his personality. One would expect that a popular actor like Jide would be given a role where he would have to feature more than twice in a movie. Although they both played their individual roles well, but one would have liked to see a switch in characters between Jide and Femi’s father.

Again the scene where Femi  brought his girlfriend home and was seen by his father was exaggerated and misconstrued. A typical Yoruba man will not stand and watch his son play love games with a woman he is not married to and just smile the way Femi’s father did in that scene. He even went as far as encouraging them to continue. That scene was very non challant and could send the wrong message about Yoruba culture.

Kayode Adeleke and Steve Sodiya did very well in the editing of the movie. They arranged scenes in transitions as the scripts were written which gave sequential arrangements of events in the movie.

Omoni Oboli was the star of the movie as she played her role and portrayed her character magnificently. Kunle Afolayan was on an average scale and showed be applauded for the way he portrayed his role in an English movie being that his comfort zone was on the Yoruba movies. Not all actors can pull that off. Ramsey Noah also did well even when the character he was given did not suit him but his professionalism in interpreting roles would make one overlook it. On the other hand Funlola Aofiyebi really tried as the hyper friend character but would still have pulled it off being a professional, without rolling her eye balls like it was going to pop out of its socket and her excessive gesticulations were becoming really tiring. Muraina Oyelami’s scenes makes one want to fast forward the movie. Thank God she did not feature in so much scenes as she was flat although. This can be noticed from the beginning of the movie where Femi came back home and she did not act happy to see him as she was too sluggish in her expression when she went to grab his bag.

The movie had some weaknesses from cast performances, costume, make up, and other technicalities. The makeup of Ramsey Noah was faulty, in a quest to make him look young they made him look fake and really funny with the weird hairstyle. Aside the makeup, the Yoruba boy role did not fit his looks and his pure English intonation made matters worse, same with his sister.

Shola played by Kunle Afolayan made it too obvious that he was playing the bad boy role by working too hard to depict it. This can be observed in the scene where he puffed his collar on arrival into the service camp.

When the Araromire statue was found in the bush, one would wonder why it was still looking the same after it had been burnt together with the hut several years back.

The wedding between Muna and Shola did not depict a normal Nigerian court wedding and this flaw can be accredited to the costume designer who did not do well with the wedding attire of the groom and his best man.

The sound quality of the movie was not excellent. Although it was not that bad, but much more was expected for a blockbuster movie.

Much time was wasted in the golf course scene. Even if they were trying to advertise the Malcolm golf course, it was a total waste of time.

When Lara was thrown out of the house by Muna and her friend, one would have wondered why her box was open. The scene made it seem like the producer could not look for a better way to reveal secrets in the movie.

Aside the weaknesses, the music director, Eilam Hoffman did a fantastic job with song compositions and the sound tracks. Every sound track was suitable for the particular scene it was played.

The picture quality was sharp and professional and selective focus technique was used to blur the vision of people in the background so that the camera would be focused on the particular characters of that scene. An example can be seen in Femi’s welcome party. Though it seemed irrelevant but it showed professional skill of the cameraman.

The Figurine is a movie that truly depicts the primitive nature of Africans who believe that their destiny lies in the hands of some named gods as Femi used it as a point of destruction when he noticed Muna believed in the power of the statue.

Though this movie had flaws but it cannot deny the fact that the movie was an improvement in the Nigerian movie industry if today. The Figurine is heaven sent to Nollywood to redeem its lost glory. It was recorded that Nollywood was fast sinking with the emergence of Ghana movies in Nigeria film industry.

All thanks to the promising Director cum Producer Kunle Afolayan who has reminded Nigerians of how better we can become with this sensational movie. Out of a hundred percent , The Figurine is rated 80%.

 

 

 

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