Movie Title: Inside Life
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Tope Adebayo Salami
Producer: Chuks Enete
Cast: Wole Ojo, Samuel Perry (Broda Shaggi), Nedu Wazobia, Hafiz ‘Saka’ Oyetoro, Tina Mba, Funsho Adeolu, Romeo WJ, Koloman Prosper, Belinda Effah and Eric Obinna.
Inside Life follows the story of an about-to-wed who is wrongly remanded in prison a few days before his wedding. He not only has to get out of prison on time to make his wedding, but he also has to learn to survive the conditions in prison and get out alive.
Unlike some Nollywood movies where comedians and skit makers are cast solely for their popularity without paying attention to character development, Inside Life puts round pegs in round holes. Featuring a mix of Nollywood actors, comedians and skit makers, none of the characters feel forced on the viewers.
Wole Ojo breathes life into his character and takes us through a rollercoaster of emotions. You believe him and find yourself rooting for him every step of the way. Samuel Perry reprises aspects of his Broda Shagi character but shows more depth balancing the serious with the funny, same goes for Hafiz Oyetoro and his ‘Saka’ persona. Though brief, Tina Mba and Funsho Adeolu deliver solid performances.
The wit, punch lines and anecdotes add humour without taking away from the import of the film’s message. The comedy also helps in easing some of the heaviness around the plot. It also helps in shattering stereotypes of criminals who are usually portrayed as stone hearted lacking emotions.
Inspired by a true life story, Inside Life is full of drama. Thankfully, this is enhanced by the action scene that opens the film. The romance too, adds another layer; an excited bride and groom counting down to the wedding of their dreams. Then, you have the intrigues and moments of what if? This keeps you watching till the very end.
There are missed opportunities to explore the story further. For someone getting married, one would have also expected to see how his incarceration affected the wedding planning process. What did he miss in those days? What were family and relatives told? After being released, was the wedding still going to go on as planned without any delay? It would have also been good to know just how much was paid to fund a honeymoon in any part of the world. Why wasn’t more money spent on his welfare while in prison?
For a film that wants to give the viewer a front-row seat to the inside life of Nigeria’s correctional facilities, it falls short in painting a full picture. For example, it would have been good to see more locations around the prison and how the inmates are engaging with the environment. Even within the prison cell, we are not let in on the state of the conveniences but are left to imagine them based on the conversations between the inmates.
Inside Life delivers a powerful message with a good balance of drama, action and comedy. With its references to pop culture and current socio-political realities in Nigeria, it makes for a good post-viewing conversation.
Reviewed by Isabella Adediji