By Benedicta Omoruyi
Teniola Olatoni’s The New Normal, is a Nigerian ‘Dramedy’ now showing in over 51 cinemas in across the country. The movie which premiered on the 15th of November, opened in cinemas across the country since the 20th of November, marks Olatoni’s directorial debut of a feature film
The film has been the cause of several exquisite screenings and private viewings and everyone who happens to be somebody in the industry has testified to the goodness of the film. Coming from a filmmaker’s point of view, I am going to rate this movie a nine out of 10, which is a 90% out of a 100.
Cinematography wise, I will give an eight out of 10. This is because I was completely intrigued by the dinner table scenes in the movie. I kept wondering what camera was used for the scene and why it rotated the way it did. Was it a steady cam? Was it A Ronin with a Gimbal? Was it a derby dolly? I desperately wanted to know because it was creative, different and engaging. As every juicy detail spilled on the table, the expressions of the casts were a sight for sore eyes. I later discovered from the director of the film Teniola Olatoni that the dinner table scene took the DOP, Adekunle “Nodash” Adejuyigbe 23 takes before it was gotten right and it was the most difficult scene to shoot. I was very impressed at the results which shows hard work definitely pays. The associate producer, Tobi Olanihun let me know that a rotating table was used for the scene and they also used a tripod head on top the table, to get the consistent looks alongside other creative methods for the scene.
At this point I wanted to be a part of the production team. The framing in various shots gave a great composition, especially the fridge scene. When you see the movie, you will definitely understand why I love it so much.
Story / Screenplay
A lot of times most people are not very impressed with the vast majority of Nollywood’s screenplay as it is almost always predictable, unreal and lacks the creativity we see most times in Hollywood. However, The New Normal deserves an eight out of 10. Everything you can think of in a good story line is present. Diversity, inclusion, twists and turns as well as suspense. At first when I saw the trailer, I thought it was a crime movie but then as the storyline began to unfold, I was pleased with its uniqueness. The film revolves around the lives of four couples and a single friend as they navigate individual and collective issues of discrimination, misogyny, addiction, mental health, infertility and nepotism while trying their best to keep up appearances and escape society’s suffocating boots. With their often hilarious and always surprising results; they find their way to a whole new normal. The New Normal written by Tunde Babalola – one of Nigeria’s most notable scriptwriters, with critically acclaimed movies such as Last Flight to Abuja, October 1 and Citation under his creative belt.
Picture – Look and Texture
One of the most beautiful things about a movie is the picture quality! When you want to download a movie (not piracy please!), most people go for BluRay quality, I definitely know I would! The look of this film was soft but also crisp in the sense that you can literally pick the actors from the movie and you can clearly see them too. In film, color grading is another important part of post-production and I must say the colorist did a great job in picture saturation and improving but also maintaining the genuineness of the picture. The texture of the picture shows it was shot with either a 6k camera or an ursa mini G2. For the look of the movie, I would give an 8 out of 10.
Most people don’t know this, but lights are one of the most important equipment in movie production. How and where to position light will help tell the story of the movie without words or sound. It can help tell the time, season and age of the movie. The lights in this movie scored an amazing point of 7.5 of which I need to buy the Gaffer a cold bottle of beer. There was depth in the light, it’s not bright and blinding or dark and obscure like the regular. The scenes were properly lit and pleasing to the eyes.
The New Normal is star-studded so I wasn’t surprised with the great delivery from all the actors. The dramedy features some of the biggest names in Nollywood including Richard Mofe Damijo, Mercy Johnson-Okojie, Bimbo Akintola, Kehinde Bankole, Yemi Blaq, Femi Jacobs, BrodaShaggi, Meg Otanwa, Mofe Duncan and many more. As much as everyone did very well, I had favorites… I completely loved Mercy Johnson in this movie who happen to be one of the lead characters. She wowed with how she delivered her lines and added finesse to her character. Another person worthy of note is Femi Jacobs. I loved his role, his witty lines and how he delivered his character. They both completely killed their role for me and I am very proud to give them my Oscars for best male and female actors.
From heart wrenching experiences, I have learnt that sound is the most important thing in a movie. Have the best light, camera and actors and if your sound is faulty, you will have nowhere to go. The project will be completely useless and you would have wasted all your money. The sound in The New Normal I would give an 8 out of 10. It was properly captured with great foley sound, showcasing in clarity every activity in every scene. The scoring was top notch with music that doesn’t exactly tell you the story line of the movie but depict the mood of the scenes. I enjoyed every laughter, tears and music I heard.
Director and Direction
Being her debut directorial movie, Teniola Olatoni did a great job. The twists and turns, the start and the finish are worth every ounce of my 9 out of 10. I loved the direction of the movie, the suspense and all of the comedy which kept me relaxed and looking forward to the next scene. How at first it felt like there was a murder case while there was none, how it felt like a character had transitioned but it was a plot for a bigger picture kept me in my seat for two hours. Despite the Covid-19, I am very happy to see this work of art materialize.
That The New Normal has already bagged some international awards including the Best International Narrative at the annual American Black Film Festival (ABFF) Jury Awards, and the award for Best African Female Filmmaker at the Toronto International Nollywood Film Festival (TINFF) further cements the accolades, even as it continues to receive global attention and critical acclaim.
Verdict: A wholesome, world class, genuine and excellent cinematic experience! Highly recommended.
*Omoruyi is a writer and filmmaker, working as a creative director in Lagos. In a few years she has participated in various projects in film and documentaries with some soon to be released. Some of her work include: A Covid-19 documentary Deadlier Than War; – An art documentary, Hands and Minds and comedy series, Baba Onile.