DIRECTED BY: Arie Esiri and Chuko Esiri
STARRING: Jude Akuwudike, Tomiwa Edun, Temi Ami-Williams, Emmanuel Adeji, Mary Agholor, Kemi Lala Akindoju, Lala Akindoju, Kalibe Akinkugbe and Ivy Akinyode
Tragedy and fate intervene as two Nigerians try to better the lives of their families, on a quest for what they believe will be a better life on foreign shores. After Mofe loses his family and Rosa fails to deliver on a promise, their travel plans collapse forcing them to reconsider living abroad. As time passes and wounds heal, they learn the future they desperately seek can be built at home.
Eyimofe, also known as This Is My Desire, marks the directorial feature debut of Arie and Chuko Esiri. Set in Lagos, Nigeria, the drama focuses on two characters who hope to move overseas not only to have a better life for themselves, but for their families. Mofe is an electrical engineer who looks after his sister and her siblings as he dreams of moving to Spain while Rosa looks after her pregnant sister, aiming to take her with her to Italy. However, life sometimes manages to get in the way that might make their dreams impossible to obtain.
What strikes you immediately when watching This is My Desire is the way in which the Esiri brothers shot the landscape of Lagos, with the vibrant, colourful city captured wonderfully by the films cinematographer Arseni Khachaturan. We initially start by following Mofe, an electrical engineer who is looking to travel to Spain, and manages to obtain a new passport for his new life, even having his name registered as ‘Sanchez’, much to his work colleagues amusement. By day he works as a repairman doing quick-fixes on broken-down machines that look set to blow multiple fuses at any moment with the amount that are contained within a few boxes that we witness Mofe constantly rewire and is consistently told by management to speed it up. At night he works fixing some electronics that he piles up in and around the house he shares with his sister and her children. There’s a tragic moment that happens to Mofe and in any other directors hands, it could’ve been delivered in a melodramatic way but there’s a certain earnestness and stillness to how it’s handled and lets the story unfold that makes it more powerful. From there we see how the tragedy comes at a cost, with expenses that Mofe can’t afford start to pile up leading him to having to require the help of his estranged father, in which they already have a complicated relationship to begin with.
In the second half of the film we follow Rosa, a hairdresser by day and bartender by night who is also looking after her little sister Grace, who is pregnant. Due to the pregnancy of her sister, Rosa makes it her mission to get them both to Italy, making a deal with local broke Mama Esther in order to get their documents to get them into Europe. Rosa’s journey also looks into her struggles domestically, in looking after herself and her sister especially, as well as how her romantic life affects her current predicament. We see her in a relationship with an American named Peter, who treats her to the high-life she’s not used to but thanks to the friends he’s associate with and constantly warning him of how the locals are, begins to suspect that she’s only with him for the money, and then there’s her landlord Mr Vincent, who has feelings for her and yet is willing to abuse and extort his power offer her in order to get with her.
I went into this film blind so I was slightly surprised on the narrative of the film switching from Mofe to Rosa at the halfway point of the films one-hour and fifty-six minute runtime, so admittedly it felt like the story took a while to re-find its footing in terms of pace as Mofe’s journey was so riveting. Still despite that, the film is helped by the performances of its co-leads. Jude Akuwudike gives a great performance as Mofe, he’s compelling to watch as his strength in character is being crippled slowly by debt that there doesn’t appear to be any end to. Temi Ami-Williams gives a great performance in her debut acting role as Rosa, a more confident figure that’s fighting her own battles.
Eyimofe (This Is My Desire) is an intriguing debut from twin-brothers Arie and Chuko Esiri, bringing to life the hustle of Lagos and having two compelling performances by Jude Akuwudike and Temi Ami-Williams.