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Offshoot: Strong Performances Marred By An Underdeveloped Protagonist

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Offshoot presents a compelling narrative centered around Modesire, who navigates the complex landscape of Nigeria’s drug issues while balancing familial responsibilities and career aspirations. Despite commendable performances and technical finesse, the film faces criticism for its underdeveloped protagonist and uneven storytelling.

While Kehinde Bankole delivers a standout portrayal as Modesire, her character’s motivations and depth remain ambiguous, hindering emotional engagement. The film’s thematic depth is undercut by contrived plot elements and pacing issues, despite the effective use of misdirection in unraveling its central mystery.

With its dark, brooding cinematography and strong supporting cast, Offshoot offers moments of intrigue but ultimately falls short of delivering a cohesive and resonant narrative experience.

Offshoot

Directed by: Steve Ayeny
Written by: Temitope Bolade and Diche Enunwa
Genre: Crime Drama
Released on: June 14, 2024 (Cinemas)
Language: English/Pidgin English

Plot

Modesire has just been appointed as Head of Investigation and Operations of the NDA after the demise of her boss. Dee, as she is fondly called, sees this as an opportunity to prove that she is more than capable of ridding the country of the drug menace plaguing it in recent times.

She immediately hits the ground running with several successful raids and quickly catches the attention of the drug cartel. When she starts to receive death threats, her husband, Dike, becomes worried and tries to talk her out of pursuing the cartel so aggressively but for Modesire, there is no turning back.

It’s all or nothing. Her constant refusal to see reason even when the threats intensify and involve their daughter greatly annoys Dike and strains their relationship. In a bid to save his wife and family as a whole, Dike has to make the best and worst decision of his life, taking them both on a roller coaster journey that threatens her job, their marriage, and eventually maybe even her sanity.

Story

The story focuses on the drug issues in Nigeria, particularly on the issue of Cannabis. It follows Modesire as she wrestles with the challenge of prioritizing between family, responsibilities, career, and moral integrity in the face of adversity and imminent threats.

The Cinema Experience

Entering the cinema, there were high expectations for the film, particularly regarding performances and its treatment of Nigeria’s drug issues. The trailer hinted at the tension between Modesire and her husband over prioritizing personal and family safety versus taking a dangerous stand to effect change.

The trailer sparked curiosity, suggesting a captivating story with high stakes to grip the audience’s hearts. However, Modesire’s handling of these challenges lacked independence. It also suggested that the core of the story would be uncovering the identity of Boss. And the film handled this well, using misdirection and an interesting plot twist to reveal the truth. Upon reviewing, it was noticed that the plot twist actually hinted at the identity of Boss to an extent.

Though the sound effectively heightened certain situations, there wasn’t enough reason to stay actively engaged as the film unfolded. Relying heavily on dialogue, the film became tedious to watch in a cinema setting.

Performances

Overall, Offshoot deserves high ratings for its cast, with strong performances, particularly in portraying complex emotions and relationships. Kehinde Bankole, who plays Modesire, is fantastic in this role, portraying a fierce, talented, and determined character. Though there are scenes where she seems a bit uncomfortable, particularly in intimate moments with her husband, but her overall performance is commendable.

Kelechi Udegbe, portraying Dike (Modesire’s husband), impresses with his range of expressions and demeanor. In the beginning, he comes off as whiny, but it eventually makes sense as the film unfolds. His character showcases a spectrum of emotions, ranging from vulnerability as a lover boy to toughness, highlighting his versatility. His performance is the epitome of the film, highlighted by a brilliant monologue that captivates and underscores his versatility as an actor.

Ibrahim Suleiman, as Tony, Modesire’s Chief of Staff, stands out. His performance is credible, and he adapts well to the plot’s twists and turns. Gregory Ojefua, as Skillz, is solid but seems to be typecasting himself. His performance falls short compared to his work in Kill Boro. Known for his comedic roles, he reverts to humor, which doesn’t fit the serious tone of the film.

David Jones, who plays Zukky/Azuka, delivers a decent performance. Bimbo Manuel, who plays the chairman, appears only once but delivers his role moderately. The way he is placed (throwing darts) feels too try-hard, but he fulfills his role well. However, from an outsider’s perspective, he doesn’t appear as menacing as Modesire believes him to be.

Other cast members, including Fausat Balogun as Modesire’s mum, Chukwu Martin as Tega, Princess Kossy Nwogu as Amara (Modesire’s daughter), Tomiwa Kukoyi, Vera Ephraim, Kevin Ushi, Steve Asinobi, Shewa Ale, and Nonso Odogwu, deliver solid performances.

Technical Aspects

In terms of editing and sound design, Offshoot displays both strengths and weaknesses. The score effectively heightens tension, crucial for maintaining the suspenseful atmosphere throughout the movie. The sound design further enhances these elements, contributing significantly to the film’s overall impact and immersive experience.

However, the editing often feels inconsistent and fails to complement the cinematographic choices. The film’s look, including color and lighting, also suffers from inconsistency. Some scenes are oversaturated, and characters’ skin tones occasionally appear so washed out that they seem unrealistic. Some shots included in the final cut detract from the visual storytelling and serve no narrative or storytelling purpose, neither enhancing suspense nor adding to the plot in any meaningful way. Well, was it for misdirection? No.

The film’s production design and art direction are notable, presenting believable interior sets and well-chosen locations that enhance the narrative. For instance, Dike’s home and his furniture business are realistically depicted, and subtle details like the TV screen advertisement add a layer of realism while subtly acknowledging the audience. This dual function of serving both narrative and advertisement purposes cleverly breaks the fourth wall.

Color grading and cinematography play a pivotal role in setting the film’s mood and atmosphere. The use of dark, brooding tones complements the underworld theme effectively, creating a sense of intrigue and danger. The lighting and visuals in a scene where Dike expresses his love for his wife are particularly notable and well-executed.

However, some aspects of the cinematography could be distracting at times. Certain camera movements, especially those switching between speakers, felt unnecessary and detracted from the narrative flow. This issue might also stem from editing choices, where shots lacking narrative relevance were included. Addressing these minor inconsistencies could further refine the film’s visual storytelling and enhance viewer engagement.

Overall, while the production design, editing, sound design, and cinematography contribute positively to the film, a more cohesive approach in certain camera movements and editing decisions could elevate the viewing experience even further.

Final Thoughts

One of the main drawbacks of Offshoot is the underdeveloped protagonist, Modesire. Her motivations are unclear from the outset; while she aims to tackle drug issues, her deeper reasons remain ambiguous. She is portrayed as a generally good character with good intentions, but the film fails to delve into her motivations or explore her human side effectively.

Modesire is initially depicted as a strong, individualistic character; however, by the film’s conclusion, her psychological makeup seems to suggest that she is ultimately influenced and controlled by the men in her life. This portrayal challenges her independence and raises questions about the consistency of her character development.

The communication between the two lovers in the film is questionable and often characterized by gaslighting. Despite being portrayed as loving, they frequently create conflicts in their interactions by pretending not to understand each other. In addition to this, it’s worth noting that these communication issues are eventually resolved by the end of the film, which can be seen as a redeeming factor.

The questionable and gaslighting nature of their interactions, where conflicts arise from a lack of understanding, contrasts with their portrayal as a loving couple, casting doubt on the authenticity of their relationship dynamics.

The trailer didn’t highlight many action sequences, and while the action scenes in the film were well-choreographed, they weren’t particularly captivating. Some parts felt contrived and overly convenient within the fight sequences and catch. However, these scenes still served narrative purposes that can be somewhat excused.

At the point of the villain’s revelation, it becomes clear that the writer paid meticulous attention to building the character arc of the antagonist, skillfully using well-placed misdirection. Moreover, the reveal feels too easy, some scenes feel unresolved, and some catches by the NDA with so-called expertise look too easy.

Verdict

While Offshoot addresses the issue of drugs with strong performances and attention to detail, it misses opportunities to delve into current trends related to cannabis in Nigeria. Instead, the focus is primarily on the protagonist rather than the broader drug-related issues. Despite the plot suggesting Modesire’s mission to rid the country of the drug menace, the film fails to convey why drugs are a significant problem, how they plague the nation, and their impact on ordinary citizens. Offshoot is a crime drama that focuses not on drugs themselves, but on the crimes surrounding them, filled with suspense and misdirection.

While Offshoot has its strengths, particularly in storytelling, it falls short in character development and emotional depth, making it less suitable for a compelling cinema experience. The film doesn’t fully utilize its technical elements—such as cinematography, editing, and sound design—to immerse the audience in its narrative. Opportunities for visual and symbolic cues that could intellectually engage viewers are missed, relying heavily on dialogue instead, which can become burdensome. This lack of fully explored technical craftsmanship results in a film that, while competent, doesn’t fully captivate or stimulate its audience.

Rating: 2.5/5

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.

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