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Big Love is Peak Biodun Stephen!
Big Love is the best Biodun Stephen film in recent years; it is full of love, laughter, and relatable joy.
The last few scenes of Big Love, the new Biodun Stephen romantic comedy on Amazon Prime, will force you into the cheesiest smiles. Evoking this sort of reaction is what Stephen does best. She is a master of the basics, a true believer in less is more. She refrains from burdening her stories, especially in the third act, with elaborate layers and twists, as if trying to impress. Stephen excels at the simple things, which is why her fans from her iROKOtv days fell in love with her romantic and familial stories.
This film is the best Biodun Stephening in recent years. It is a simple story about love, the longing and fighting for it, packed as a family drama with strong family values. Also, there's plenty of heart — loads and loads of it.
Big Love tells the interesting love story of Adil and Adina (played by Timini Egbuson and Bimbo Ademoye, respectively), two people who admired each other during their university days but never acted on it and have now reunited at a bank graduate trainee camp.
They quickly catch up, and sparks gradually ignite. As with romcoms, they both have baggage: people of the opposite sex who always call when they are together. However, this is not the hurdle for the lovers to beat.
There's something, or someone else, holding Adina back. A child she procreated with a certain LD, who brings adequate chaos into this otherwise simple story. Picture your conventional fuckboy whom everyone at the family function agrees is a useless child, and yes, that's LD. Interestingly, he's played by BBNaija's Seyi Awolowo, and he shines in the role.
But you see, Adil is a super nice guy. He doesn't mind. He makes an elaborate lie to claim the child, Jayden, and tells his mum (Kafil) and vivacious aunt (Kareema), who then travel without notice to meet the boy.
Predictably, this lie comes to haunt their relationship in the future.
Big Love is predictable like most romcoms, but it's so well-written, aptly melodramatized and expertly performed that you are content and even grateful to follow these characters on their foreseeable journeys.
The dynamics within Adil's family make for excellent drama. The relationship between his mum and his bubbly aunty, played with delightful oomph by the consistently excellent Shaffy Bello, gives the romantic comedy plenty of laughter and relatable moments of joy.
There are a couple of moments where both friends remind you of your own animated aunties in a way that forces heartwarming smiles. The scene where Adil's mummy meets Jayden is one such scene. She introduces herself as his Nana, and Bello's character says, “I'm your mummy 2” with a smile. We all have an aunt who refers to herself as a form of "mummy 2"— big mummy, small mummy, etc. — and Stephen likes to create such relatable characters who make you reminisce about the delightful figures you encounter at family gatherings.
The film's most joyous moments occur when Adil's family try to settle the problem caused by the big lie. It's a simple yet powerful and relatable sequence. It's stomach-hurting hilarious, too; funny in the way Old Nollywood had mastered, funny in the way New Nollywood hasn't embraced. A reminder that, at her best, no one tells relatable familial Nigerian stories better than Biodun Stephen. She's a master connoisseur of family drama — be it the good, the bad, or the chaotic side of family gatherings where significant issues are settled.
It's a wonder she's been dragged into productions that betray her filmmaking soul as she leaves iROKOtv for bigger streamers and cinemas. But in Big Love, we are once again reminded that Stephen is one of our greatest storytellers when she's telling hearty stories with a strong emphasis on family values. Long may it continue!