“Water and Garri” Review: Too Much Water In The Garri

Andrew Yaw Bunting and Tiwa Savage, as Kay and Aisha, respectively, inject palpable love warmth into this otherwise dry film. The romantic relationship between the two is extremely endearing due of Yaw Bunting's macho presence and Tiwa Savage's queenly demeanour, which is not surprising, after all she's the queen of Afro-beats. The two simply amaze us with their love affair, no matter how shallow it is written.

ByAdedibu Liasu6 Min Read

The appearance of Tiwa Savage, the queen of Afro-beats, in this new Prime Video movie, “Water and Garri,” will undoubtedly captivate Nigerian audiences. In it, the matriarch of afro-beats navigates between homesickness and the sense of sadness and pain from the past that this same home embodies, all while attempting to rekindle love with her former romantic partner. Tiwa Savage co-produced the film, in addition to starring in it. And every frame in the film, which features the Nigerian popstar, is gracious. Even if one questions her acting ability, one might be easily convinced by her screen presence, as if Tiwa Savage’s remote celebrity position provided some kind of closure.

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The film was shot in Eastside, a fictional town on Ghana’s Cape Coast(Where the director felt inspired while there)with a host of Ghanaian actors featuring in it. It’s not just the Afrobeat singer’s cinematic debut, but she’s also pursuing a career aspiration. The film also marks the directorial debut of Meji Alabi, a British Nigerian filmmaker who has previously worked with Tiwa Savage on multiple music videos. In an interview with Okayafrica, Meji Alabi stated that they merely planned to shoot a memorable music video from Tiwa Savage’s EP, “Water & Garri,” ( from which the scores of the film come) for the project’s soundscapes, but they soon began to consider making it into a film.

Aisha (Tiwa Savage) is a successful stylist in the United States. She moved to the United States to pursue her ambition of becoming a stylist, but also as a form of exile to escape the bitter legacy of loss that her home, Eastside, represents for her following the death of her grandmother Yemi and the murder of her brother, Midé (Mike Afolarin). Ten years later, she comes home to offer emotional support to Stephany (Jemima Osunde), her friend, and her deceased brother’s girlfriend. But Eastside, where she left, is now governed by gangs, led by her ex-boyfriend, Kay (Andrew Yaw Bunting). Together, the two try to reunite and rekindle the embers of their old love, but Aisha is stuck in her grief, and Kay’s new status as leader of the streets also impinges on their love.

“Water and Garri” is about this and that, but ultimately about nothing. It’s a feel-good film with the protagonist at its center, not as a movie figure or character, but as a real-life celebrity. So, instead, Aisha serves as an avatar for the latter. We get Aisha not as a fully fleshed-out heroine with her own intricacies, but as one who lives in the shadows of her prototype.

The script for “Water and Garri” is underdeveloped, as are the characters. We’re continually informed how the imaginary town of Eastside has changed, now governed by gangs, but there’s nothing in the plot to back it up, except for one incident, when Kay beats up a police officer for sexually harassing Aisha. All other times, to demonstrate how violent the town has become, there are bare-chested street lads lazing around or Kays lackeys sitting on bikes, filming like a music video you’d assume you were watching. By the time it reaches its climax, we’re already sapped of it

In one scene, Grandma Yemi (Joyce Nana Ama Maanu) educates Aisha about life by comparing it to garri, which is too harsh and dry to be ingested alone but has a perfect balance when combined with water. However, there was too much water in the garri. “Water and Garri,” with the writing failing to create a balance between feel-good moments and Aisha’s prior grief—mostly shown through flashbacks—which never struck an emotional chord in the first place.

Andrew Yaw Bunting and Tiwa Savage, as Kay and Aisha, respectively, inject palpable love and warmth into this otherwise dry film. The romantic relationship between the two is extremely endearing due to Yaw Bunting’s macho presence and Tiwa Savage’s queenly demeanor, which is not surprising, after all, she’s the queen of Afro-beats. The two simply amaze us with their love affair, no matter how shallow it is written.

The cinematography in “Water and Garri” is gorgeous. Meji Alabi, the director and cinematographer, undoubtedly drew on his experience shooting music videos, since several shots were clearly inspired and had such qualities, as was most of the cinematography which was breathtaking and visually appealing.

Finally, “Water and Garri” is just a feel-good picture inspired by an extended play (EP) written by two first-timers, Tiwa Savage as an actor and Meji Alabi as a filmmaker. It was never an original initiative in the first place, thus the viewers should not be critical of it and have no expectations from it and should be seen just out of curiosity.

Rating: 4/10

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I am Adedibu Liasu, a dedicated film critic and writer with BA in French from Obafemi Awolowo University. I'm enthusiastic about African films, particularly Nollywood. A seasoned blogger who reviews films and promotes African cinema, particularly Nollywood films. Email: [email protected]
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