Producer: Obi Emelonye
Screenplay: Obi Emelonye
Cast: Ngoli Okafor, Ngozi Thompson Igwebike, Savanah Roy and D’Richy Obi-Emelonye
Genre: Drama, Romance
Oxford Gardens takes us into the lives of Julius and Munachi, a boxer and a terminally ill patient who cross paths and fall in love while helping each other.
Julius, played by Ngo Okafor, didn’t want to go back to boxing after he got out of jail, instead he takes to hanging out in parks and smoking weed which speaks for most people with jail experiences and resigned hopes. His hate and anger when Munachi tried to revealed his disturbed man who truly missed his daughter could be felt through the screen. This character was naturally enacted by Ngoli Okafor. His muscles made his demeanor even more convincing.
Munachi, played by Ngozi Igwebike (Onye Ozi – 2013), had been diagnosed to be terminally ill but didn’t want to spend all her time in her death-bed. She had a list of things she wanted to do so she snuck out, but how she changed her robes and snuck out would have been creative and entertaining for viewers. She was also a bit too lively for someone who is expecting to die. Nevertheless, the way she warmed her way into the boxers’ heart with her searching and deep questions are one of the things that make her my favorite female actress in this movie.
The costumes were perfect – gloomy ones for the patient and hip-like designs for the boxer. The absence of make-up on the sick character was a clear sign that nothing was overlooked by the director. Munachi’s parents also prove the movies’ beautiful casting, but the teary scenes by the mom were whack. No tears. The director could at least have used eye-drops for such scenes.
The scene were Ngo Okafor realized she’d really died actually drew tears from my eyes. The camera angles were superb throughout the movie. Sound quality was perfectly crystal and the locations were fresh. No ojota dirt and no dilapidated infrastructure at the gym… the scenes were set in the UK.
It is understandable that Nollywood hasn’t been looking into boxing-themed scripts (like Hollywood’s Southpaw), but taking it outside the country wouldn’t encourage local producers nor inspire any Nigerian child considerably. It also diminishes the realism as the movie targets Africa as a core audience. Home-hitting national stadium locations or even Costain bus stop would have blown viewers away with its down-to-earthness.
Obi Emelonye, whose daughter (D’Richy) features in this movie, is the first African director to shoot a feature film at East End Studios, a studio that is mainly used by UK and US. So obviously, world class values really stood out especially since it features the Nollywood Film Factory and Africa Magic Original Films (AMOF) in its production.
More impressive is Ngoli Okafor’s performance. The two-time Golden Gloves winner isn’t resting on his laurels as his feature-length documentary chronicling his journey from Nigeria to Boxing is currently in production. The actor/model has also appeared on the Wall Street Journal magazine, Fortune, among many more.
Oxford Gardens premiered at ‘The Palms, Genesis Deluxe Cinemas’ recently and had a lineup of its stars plus the director at the venue. It’s a beautiful production with a touching story-line. I could see this movie clinching my best recently-watched film award, if ever I have one.
This movie takes 8/10 for not bringing the scenes home. Check out the trailer below for Ngoli’s muscles while I think of how to have packs like that.