by Itohan Ferguson
It isn’t everyday, a Nollywood movie, has me intrigued, but the movie Trace made an admirable attempt, at having me fascinated, then it lost me . For those who haven’t seen Trace the movie, it’s plot is crafted in the vein of a psychological thriller.
The story begins with the loving couple Uyi (Blossom Chukwujekwu) and Ivory (Yvonne Enakhena), celebrating the anniversary of their marriage, although we are not made aware of how long they have been married for. We are swept away by the euphoric love, the couple exudes. as we witness several passionate embraces and kisses thrown here and there; to seal the awwww moment, Ivory grandly announces her pregnancy.
However we cant help but feel the cloud of foreboding, threatening to envelope this happy couple and I must confess the producer succeeds in carrying the audience along in the emotional chaos that she is about to unleash.
The door bell rings – more like tolls, with Ivory answering it, only to find a mysterious parcel left at the door, written on it is the words ‘Happy Aniversary’ misspelled and we are left to wonder, if it is a deliberate aim by the producers to improperly spell the word ‘anniversary’ or if it is a grammatical error, they may have overlooked.
Another thing I find quite commendable, is the producer’s use of of fitting music, there is nothing of the melodramatic sounds that plague most local movies. With subtle music, she is able to give off an illusive sense of approaching tragedy. Also there are instances where she masterfully weaves comedy into the plot of the story. There are also moments when a scene meant to give off seriousness, comes off as being highly comical and it is doubtful that is the emotion the producer seeks to evoke.
After Ivory takes the parcel back into the house, we get the sense that there may be trouble in paradise as we eavesdrop on a conversation, between Uyi and a strange woman called Aisha (Yinka Pearce).
Thus planted in our mind is who is Aisha?
Gleefully Ivory thanks Uyi for the parcel at the door, she assumes just like us that it is an anniversary gift from her beloved Uyi, who seemed surprised at the gift, because it isn’t from him. Then comes the ‘collective aha’ moment, as we wonder who may have gifted this couple on their anniversary, no less, is it a Friend or a Foe?
Uyi opens the parcel, to find a pair of lady’s panty with the short message “I remember the taste and the feel”. From then on the beautiful show of love we have begun to witness from the onset of the movie, begins to disintegrate before our very eyes. With both Uyi and Ivory pointing fingers, at each other, for cheating.
It becomes a race to unravel the mystery of who is sending them these bawdy gifts, with suggestive notes making references to the date, 5th of November, first of, they must uncover who these gifts are meant for between them. Ivory’s? or Uyi’s? and what is the significance of the date 5th of November.
On the advice of the mystery woman Aisha whose conversation we had witnessed early on, Uyi discovers that the Panty gifts they have been receiving may actually belong to his wife, because they are in her size and in the brand she favors. Uyi is wound up so tight, that he attacks an innocent delivery man, who comes to the house to drop off a legitimate package. The scene of Uyi’s encounter is treated with such levity and it is meant to point us in a direction where we glimpse the darkness Uyi may have hidden beneath his loving, doting exterior, but it doesn’t, as the scene seems to us as an irrelevant isolated event, and we do not realize, how important that moment is, because the producer is unable show it.
Furthermore, the scene was so improperly directed as what should have looked like one man beating another to a pulp, comes off as ridiculous, because all we see is Uyi, flaying his hands and dragging the delivery man who has no reaction, except one of utter helplessness he clumsily potrays. That for me, may have been one of my worst scenes in the movie, because it is so badly executed.
Ivory on the other hand, attempts to get to the root of the mysterious anniversary presents she has been receiving, having concluded that they belong to her, she confides in her close friend ( Bayray Mcwinzu), who brings up a nefarious figure of her past called Gabu, played by Gregory Ojefua. Who in my opinion, is unable play up the role, to its fullest.
The role of Gabu, in the movie, is that of a villain, who threatens the peace and well-being of a couple, he is also the shadowy figure of Ivory’s past and it is beyond me, how Gregory Ojefua a known comic is cast in that role, it negates the seriousness of all, Gabu’s character emblematizes.
There are several scenes in the movie, that, I think are frankly unnecessary, as they do nothing to develop the plot to its resolution. For one, the meeting between Uyi and and Gabu at the bar, is unnecessary, it achieves nothing and evokes no emotions in us.
The character of Aisha and the several office scenes with Uyi and an investigation of embezzlement that hangs over Uyi’s head. Is quite an unnecessary part of the movie.
Ivory investigates and finds herself in Gabu’s residence, she is holding a metal bar as a weapon and confronts him, where we learn the truth that he isn’t the mastermind behind the plot to harass the couple on their anniversary by sending them bawdy gifts and suggestive notes. This the point where the movie loses the intriguing hold it has over me, to become the quintessentially cliche Nollywood production.
We are not surprised when we find out that the person behind the entire twisted plot is none other than Ivory’s best friend, a character played by Bayray Mcwinzu. Her reasons for orchestrating the entire plot was to expose the dark side of Uyi as both a rapist and a violent man. Uyi counters her accusation of raping her to say she seduced him and she is just a scorned woman acting up.
It becomes a ‘he said, she said’ situation, with accusations flying back and forth between the two, with doubt in our minds, Is Uyi a psychopath? or is the character of Bayray in the movie, just a bitter scorned ex lover of Uyi?
We are left even more confused than ever as the resolution is not tied in a neat little bow, with so many unanswered questions and loose ends.
The scene of Bayray’s character holding the couple hostage with a gun, resolves itself when Uyi descends on her badly beating her up, till she is unconscious. Even then we can’t fault his actions as that of a sociopath, because he may well have come off as a man defending his wife and unborn child from being harmed.
The movie comes to an end with Ivory visiting Uyi in prison, but he is not incarcerated for the crime of assualting Bayray’s character in the movie, but for the crime of embezzlement which, contributes nothing to the plot.
I do commend the attempt at a psychological thriller, but it is quite unfortunate that the directing, characters, dialogue and costuming, is unable to bear the burden of such a weighty plot. Had it being properly executed, that would have been a shinning example of a psychological thriller locally made.
There are several things, which in my opinion should have been changed to put the movie perspective, such as subtle clues by the producer, there is none and we are bombarded with a haphazard plot, to an even more confusing resolution.
If it is the producer’s aim to make Uyi off as a sociopath, he would have displayed subtle behaviors, which would be a clue to his violent and shadowy personality. Furthermore, there is no depth in the Bayray’s character and to think she is at the root of the entire debacle.
The movie producers should have left us clues to Ivory’s hazy past as a petty thief and her encounter with the nefarious character Gabu, the plot doesn’t follow a sequential series of action, leaving the audience confused and doubtful of what the producer’s real motive is in the plot.
There would have been more attempts to ensure a tightly woven plot structure that melds into a beautifully crafted denouement.
Either ways the attempt at a psychological thriller is admirable and it flies in the face of the several cliche story lines that abound in the Nollywood industry.
See Trailer Here: