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To Freedom – Nollywood Reinvented

To Freedom – Nollywood Reinvented

To Freedom narrates the tale of a seemingly content couple, Tobi (Daniel Etim-Effiong) and Shola (Osas Ighodaro). Tobi’s world shatters when Shola goes missing after a shopping trip. He dedicates years to searching for her and grieving her disappearance, but as the story unfolds, it becomes evident that there’s more to the situation than meets the eye.

WARNING: The following review contains spoilers.

To Freedom takes a fresh approach to the typical domestic abuse narrative, and it deserves recognition for that. Although there were hints from the start that Tobi had some abusive tendencies, the audience is led to believe that it might have been his controlling nature or financial abuse that prompted Shola to leave. However, the true extent of the abuse only comes to light towards the end, which cleverly surprises unsuspecting viewers. The movie also sends a strong message about the long-arm of wealth in the justice system of our society, thereby making it near impossible for abuse victims to escape from their abusers even when the victims themselves are from above middle-class families.

If the intention of To Freedom was to keep Shola’s escape a secret, it wasn’t effectively concealed. The events leading up to her escape and the entire process itself were quite predictable throughout the movie. Such that the entire middle part of the movie as Tobi keeps going back and forth from “she’s alive” to “I’ve accepted my fate” and right back to “she’s alive” becomes an exhausting ordeal for the audience.

But the exhaustion does not end there. There’s something about the general production of this movie that screams ‘sub-par’ from the jump. It manifests in a combination of ways from the inept audio quality to the constant claims that ‘Tobi Adekunle’ is supposed to be this astonishingly wealthy man (a man wealthy enough to lock up yet another influential man in town) but his surroundings do not show this. It is in the production, it is in the staging, it is in the choreography of that fight scenes, there are too many obvious ‘attempts’ at creating an ambiance that never actually translate to the creation of said ambiance. The house Tobi lives in is regular, his clothes are regular, his office is regular and everything about him asides from his braggadocios words are just that, ‘regular’.

At the end of the movie, Shola finally appears to Tobi while he is laying in a medically induced state of incapacitation and that is when the truth of her entire disappearance comes out. Forgive me, but this just felt like a truly nollywood conclusion. Oh now we will explain to you all that happened. Because why? If she is truly afraid of him and what he can do while he is alive like she claims then what is the point of showing up to him? Do you think it will fix him? Might a better ending have just been him continuing to feel like he sees her around and never being sure? And what is the actual message supposed to be with the conclusion of leaving Tobi forever incapacitated with drugs? Isn’t that a different form of abuse? Did we somehow become judge, jury and executioner and decide that it was completely up to citizens to decide the extent of evil to repay evil with? I have so many questions about the thoughts that went into writing this movie but I fear I will never get the answers so I am forced to move on.

The movie that To Freedom presents to be from the trailer is not the movie that it actually ended up being. While the movie seems to aim at delivering a message about domestic abuse, one could argue that the “teased” storyline, featuring a man searching for his wife engaged in a psychological game of hide-and-seek, had the potential to be an even more captivating and engaging film.

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