Couples are commonplace at the cinema, as anyone who frequents the cinemas in any of the popular malls in Lagos would tell you. So there is no doubting the relationship between romance and cinema. The latter, one could say, helps to strengthen the bond between lovers who both might relate to a movie character or situation.
In the spirit of Valentine, we have compiled a list of some Nigerian movies you can watch with your truly beloved. Some of them have cheesy plot lines, some corny dialogue, but all are a celebration of love.
In Hamisha Daryani Ahuja’s directorial debut, a Nigerian pro bono lawyer (Ini Dima-Okojie) and an Indian investment banker (Ruslaan Mumtaz) fall in love at first sight. On learning of their relationship, the parents of the couple balk at it. But the couple get a happy ending, as the movie portrays how love can overcome stiff cultural differences and prejudices.
Upon its theatrical release in December 2020 and its premiere on Netflix in February 2021, the movie was billed as the first major collaboration between Nollywood and Bollywood.
It is produced by Forever 7 Entertainment and stars Richard Mofe-Damijo, Joke Silva, Osas Ighodaro, and Sujata Sehgal.
The Royal Hibiscus Hotel
Newly returned from London with the mind of upsizing her family’s hotel business in Nigeria, Ope (Zainab Balogun) is shocked to learn a debt has prompted her parents (Jide Kosoko and Rachel Oniga) to sell the family business. She is even more shocked to learn that the man she has recently fallen for (Kenneth Okolie playing Deji) works for the company nursing the takeover bid.
Written and directed by Ishaya Bako, this rom-com screened in the Contemporary World Cinema section at the 2017 Toronto International Film Festival. It is produced by EbonyLife Films and stars Nollywood veterans Joke Silva and Olu Jacobs.
Although romantic relationships between older men and young women are common in Nigerian society, it has been barely represented by Nollywood. In the times that it has, it is nearly always cast as purely capitalistic: the older man wants sex and the young woman wants money.
Fine Wine, directed by Seyi Babatope, presents a fresh narrative, replacing the capitalism common to this kind of relationship with genuine love and warmth.
George, a wealthy middle-aged man played by Richard Mofe-Damijo, falls for Kaima (Ego Nwosu), a fresh university graduate. But besides the prejudice their relationship faces due to the age gap, their budding romance is threatened by George’s vindictive ex-wife and the fact that Kaima has a boyfriend.
The movie derives its title from that popular saying, “ageing like fine wine,” seemingly implying that mature love beats the one you experience in your teens or 20s. As though to stress the point, the story casts Kaima’s young boyfriend as immature.
It is produced by Nevadabridge Productions and premiered in the theatre on 12 February 2021.
This movie is similar to Fine Wine, as it also has a male protagonist (Wale Ojo) who finds love in his middle age, after a despairing episode of being wifeless—George of Fine Wine loses his wife to divorce; Femi of Kasanova loves his wife to death.
But unlike in Fine Wine, the male protagonist here falls for an equally middle-aged woman (Ireti Doyle), his son’s music teacher.
The movie is directed by Oluseyi Amuwa and produced by Fojo Media. It was released in September 2019.
Kambili: The Whole Nine Yards
This movie follows the story of a young woman pushing 30, the eponymous Kambili played by Nancy Isime, whose slovenly lifestyle impinges on her friendships and romantic life.
For the most part Kambili invests in winning back an ex-lover, played by Mawuli Gavor, but learns poignant lessons in the end.
This movie, whose theatrical release was on 4 December 2020, is directed by Kayode Kasum. It is jointly produced by FilmOne Entertainment, Empire Entertainment, and Huahua Media. Its cast also includes Jide Kene Achufusi and Sharon Ooja.