#DEEMOVIEREVIEW || THE ROYAL HIBISCUS HOTEL

Frustratingly not – quite – there from start to finish. The Royal Hibiscus Hotel is yet another romantic comedy by the producers at Ebonylife, who have had three prior productions of the same genre (Fifty & the wedding party series).
The Royal hibiscus hotel produced by Temidayo Abudu and directed by Ishaya Bako, is about a couple Segun and Rose portrayed by Jide Kosoko and Rachel Oniga, who run a rundown hotel supposedly in a little town in Lagos. Segun decides to sell off the hotel in desperation without his wife’s knowledge to settle their debts. Their daughter, Ope played by Zainab Balogun, is a chef who lives in London. She works a stressful job while hustling to open up her own restaurant. When she decides to come back home on vacation, her Dad is happy that she can sign off her part of the hotel to finalise the sale, while her mum is excited to get her to find a nice man and marry. Ope returns and meets a nice gentle man, Deji who Ironically, is in the bid to buy the hotel.

Staying true to my film vs food metaphors, this movie reminds me so much of an undone fried rice with lots of curry, it comes out the perfect colour but lacks the perfect blend of garnishes, hence you can’t understand why it qualifies as fried rice and not curry rice.
A popular characteristic of this movie, were the unfinished dialogues surrounded by long pauses like that of character’s patiently waiting for the director’s action call.

Jide Kosoko delivers his character in true Yoruba father style, familiar and well executed as usual. Rachel Oniga’s character on the other hand, constantly bordered on one influenced by a perfect Sola Sobowale character and if I were not Yoruba, I would conclude that all Yoruba mothers, act this same way. There were a few comical hits but most of them screamed wrong casting.
Zainab Balogun and Kenneth Okolie’s character, was well portrayed and they did as much justice as possible to their characters. So did a lot of the other actors in this film, however they seemed not to have fully developed anyone’s character to its full potential. Chika (Lala Akindoju), the hotel receptionist who was both flirtatious and saucy would have been an amazing comical character to see more of as well as the old school house chef at the Royal hibiscus, yet all we got from both characters were a few unfinished scenes that frustrated us instead of keeping us in suspense. A few other wasted characters were those played by Toni tones, Deyemi Okanlanwon, OC Ukeje, Akah, Ini Dima Okojie Olu & Joke jacobs all of whom brought so much passion to their short lived characters that faded away with each scene like extra roles.

The love story of Ope and Deji would have been a nice cliché born from those awkward drunk nights of food, conversations and long walks that we can all relate to, but all these happening in just one night, as opposed to several days beautifully merged in a sequence left their love story exaggerated and unbelievable. Leaving questions like why would Deji a responsible business man buys a hotel worth 350 million naira in the name of a girl he met and liked or is it loved in less than a month, and why did her father feel the need to hide her identity which ended up just casually being revealed and bearing no true essence.
The final scene is also one that left me with so many questions, like why did her friends or colleagues walk all the way with the reuniting coupling in the background just to shout kiss her and why did a crowd need to form at that scene like they were a part of their love story.
This movie makes a nice watch if you are looking to while away time, it honestly felt very much like a school project of a second year film student with two more years to go.
The art direction of this movie was also highly confusing, the set portrayed a vintage Nigerian hotel, while the costuming seemed like a standalone experimental stage of an adolescent child. Rachel Oniga’s costume seemed to be saying something but except it was yelling I’m a bird, I didn’t get the message it was sending. That aside, everyone else didn’t look smart enough to fit into their roles with a few faded oversized shirts and weird looking belts standing out.
It was very undone.
A few laughs, amazing soundtracks by Nigerian artiste, beautiful videography mixed with a lot of delayed actions, unfinished dialogues, uncompleted scenes, rushed expressions and lots of underdeveloped characters.

All in all, it was a beautiful story, with amazing potential. Good ingredients but somehow, the chef didn’t remember that fried rice isn’t just about the colour, it’s about the right amount of ingredients and garnish and this particular plate was in fact curry rice.

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