October 1: Solid Plot, Even Pacing, Thematically Brilliant

Film transports us through space and time, and October 1 does just that. Written by Tunde Babalola and directed by Kunle Afolayan, this films takes place in the three weeks leading up to October 1, 1960, the date of independence for Nigeria. Two young women have been murdered in the small Yoruba town of Akote. Inspector Danladi Wazairi (the amazing Sadiq Daba, who I loved, loved, loved), a commended officer who has climbed the ranks at a cost, and who his British superiors see as a yes man, as well as a brilliant and dedicated detective, is sent in. His instructions are simple. He must find the killer before October 1st.

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I wasn’t as enthralled by the mystery as I was by the knotted tensions of power and privilege, reliance and independence. There is tension between the British and Nigerians, as well as real tension between the Yoruba and the Igbo within the small town of Akote. Inspector Danladi Wazairi follows British procedure and protocol and it has real consequences in a tiny town where relationships and social standing truly rule. The police sergeant knows his place and refuses to step out of line as dictated by Akote norms, even though it means being suspended for insubordination.

Pacing took on a languidness, as time slowed in the small town of Akote. The setting is lush and warm, and I reveled in seeing part of the world I dream of one day visiting, and hearing a language new to my ears. The final scene was well worth the wait, as Detective Danladi Wazairi insists his superiors address him not as “Danny Boy” but by his real name. Names matter, and in his proclamation we see him, as well as Nigeria, asserting independence.

I connected most with this film as it meditates on pain– how we contain it, submerge it, lash out in it, are twisted and stunted by it, try to ignore it, as well as deal with it, carry it, and allow ourselves to be transformed by it. The detective and the murderer are two sides of a coin, and we watch, in the end as our beloved Detective Wazairi stands straight-backed, ready to shoulder a greater weight, more pain than he had carried a mere month before.

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