Chinaza Onuzo’s 2022 film, The Perfect Arrangement, is another hapless tale of a good story with poor storytelling.
The film is 110 minutes of wishfully hoping the story takes off properly. The synopsis of the film according to Inkblot Productions is; “Tade (Sharon Ooja), a free-spirited scion of a respected political family, is living her best life and without a care in the world.
Things get complicated when she develops feelings for Chidi (Bovi Ugboma), a fast-rising politician who also happens to be her EX, and Cheta (Pere Egbi), her best friend. As if that wasn’t bad enough, Chidi (Bovi Ugboma) and Cheta (Pere Egbi) are brothers.
The Perfect Arrangement is a romantic drama about finding yourself and your true love in the most awkward of circumstances.” Their exact words, not mine.
That being said, the film is riddled with several potholes that don’t align with the synopsis.
For starters the film hardly pays attention to the romance between the protagonists, rather it spends a large chunk of its minutes playing out the political arrangement between the Kalejaiyes and Obikwes and only sporadically sprinkles scenes of Tade lamenting her dilemma about falling in love with two brothers.
The film starts off with an introduction to Tade (Sharon Ooja) and Chidi’s (Bovi Ugboma) blissful relationship, despite knowing her Bestfriend, Chidi’s brother Cheta (Pere Egbi), had been in love with her for years.
Long story short, Chidi (Bovi Ugboma) and Tade end up breaking up a year later because Chidi (Bovi Ugboma) was about to pursue his political dreams of being the governor of Anambra state.
Tade begs to keep the relationship going but Chidi (Bovi Ugboma) insists the breakup is for the best. No problem. Five years down the line, it seems Chidi (Bovi Ugboma) and Tade (Sharon Ooja) have been out of contact, and Tade (Sharon Ooja) had been building her fashion brand and living her best life with still best friend Cheta (Pere Egbi).
All of a sudden, she decides to arrange a marriage between herself and Chidi in order to save her family from financial ruin and to gain favor from the President. Inasmuch as that
Asides from the storyline being an almost absolute miss from the synopsis, the story felt grossly underdeveloped. The film ought to have begun by involving us in the lives of Tade and Cheta to give us a peek into the dynamics of their friendship that would have heavy with romantic undertones.
That would have proven or even hinted to us that she does really love him romantically and always had deep down. Because asides from the kiss (which was shared while she was drunk) there’s no real identifier of mutual love between the two.
In reality, it’s actually a case of unrequited love from Cheta to Tade.
The failure to build on Tade and Cheta’s friendship robbed the audience of the chance to also empathize with Tade and equally feel torn apart by her situation. The audience is expected to also fall in love with both brothers and feel the heat of the dilemma.
An example of a better-executed love triangle can be seen in Jade Osiberu’s classic rom-com Isoken. The film gave us a balanced amount of romance from both sides of the triangle, in order to make the audience feel they too had a say in the protagonist’s choice.
The Perfect Arrangement didn’t offer its audience the pleasure of reveling in the double-dosed romance that the entire film was expected to be revolved around.
Also, in regards to Chidi and Tade’s said love, it was difficult to even feel a little pull towards Chidi and Tade’s relationship because it also still felt very unrequited. Left to me, I would say she didn’t love any of them, she only merely loved the thought of having two brothers love her.
This is mainly because her actions never matched her words. SHE proposed the arranged marriage between herself and Chidi – which to be fair, we saw coming, the moment she magically thought of an on-the-spot solution to Chidi’s sex scandal (one I wondered why she cared so much about).
After proposing such a hefty, hasty sacrifice on her part, she went on to constantly play the victim in the situation. By continuously claiming she ‘needed to do this for her family’ while carrying a long face around Chidi, it was difficult to believe she had any real feelings.
Her solution, though unnecessary in my opinion is understandable on her character’s part of wanting to prove herself useful to her family, due to Oba’s (her older brother) constant degrading remarks to her about being empty-headed and useless.
That being said, I also assumed this solution would also have been the writer’s way of introducing us to the ‘ex to lovers’ trope that we would have very much eaten up, and would have further progressed along the lines of ‘falling in love with two brothers at the same time’ But no!
The writers chose to carry us on an emotionally ambiguous rollercoaster with three people who barely proved to love themselves.
On Chidi’s part I could understand why he agreed to the arrangement, it’s believable he still loved her and wanted to use it as a way to win her back; and it looked like he was trying to and was fairly successful.
But the success of his ulterior plan was also hard to measure because Tade would easily fall for his charm in his face and then go home and play the damsel in distress card to her sidekick, Lottie. It was almost as if she and the writers had forgotten what stand she was supposed to take.
It didn’t help that the story failed to give Cheta a chance to prove himself. How would the audience believe that Cheta truly loves or has loved Tade if he had a total of ten dialogue points in the entire film?
His character didn’t get a chance to say more than three sentences to Tade and I truly feel that was a disservice to his claimed love for her.
Also considering this role was a perfect opportunity for Pere Egbi to prove himself as a skilled actor through performance, it seemed unfair to give him the least dialogue as one of the film’s lead characters.
Although, in a way, with the little he was given, he did perform well, I only wish there was more. He needed more. His character needed more.
In telling a story successfully, it’s impossible to dismiss the power of performance. Bovi as one of the leading stars is a decision that can be described as venturesome.
Bovi is a decent actor, a good comedian, and overall a great performer, but this role in particular I believe was also a chance to prove his acting skills in a genre different from comedy.
While he delivered on the charm, I believe his dialogue and energy were sometimes mismatched. It could have also been something with the tone delivery coupled with his body language that just didn’t feel right.
Most of his scenes often felt like he was trying very hard to not burst into laughter. That being said, it’s not throwing out his entire performance, but noting there’s a sliver of potential that can be harnessed in future projects.
Ultimately, it’s not an out rightly terrible film, it was a comfortable watch if one may say. Nevertheless, it had so much potential to be an A-class romcom, but the cut and join Onuzo and his team put together for us is not it at all.
There are many external factors that influence the outcome of a film, and it’s understandable knowing the country we’re in and its circumstances, but this film isn’t a product of bad directing or cinematography, it just had a weak story development.
Disclaimer: This article is the opinion of a Pulse Contributor, it doesn’t reflect the opinions of the company.