Thanks to the cinema successes that have trailed other movies from the stables of EbonyLife Films, and the buzz that followed the world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, as well as its premiere in Nigeria, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel movie became a highly-anticipated movie before its release this February.
The trailer did not help in allaying the pent-up anticipation of movie-lovers, myself included. So, when I got the invite to see the movie, I jumped at the opportunity. So here’s my review of The Royal Hibiscus Hotel.
Are you a romantic, a foodie, a lover of laughter and happily-ever-after? Then this is the movie for you. This Nollywood romantic comedy captures, in every scene, a true reflection of love, an extra array of food choices, and enough comedy to keep you laughing all the way through.
Opeoluwa (played by the delectable Zainab Balogun) is a beautiful, ambitious woman who is finding it difficult to break through as a Chef in London even though she has dreams of setting up her own unique African restaurant in the capital. Due to several hiccups along the line, she abandons her job and heads home to Lagos to explore her options. With her experience as a Chef in one of the world’s finest cities, Ope decides to bring alive the palates of the guests at her family’s hotel, The Royal Hibiscus Hotel, which her parents (played by Nollywood veterans Jide Kosoko and Rachel Oniga) are planning on selling to a group of investors to save them from their debt situation. The movie takes a turn as Deji (played by former Mr. Nigeria, Kenneth Okoli) turns out to be the buyer who eventually falls in love with Ope to the dismay of his business partner, Martin (played by Deyemi Okanlawon).
There are a lot of great moments in the movie and the director deserves a lot of credit with the way he enlivened the chemistry between Ope and Deji while allowing the culture, the comedy, and the food to shine as well, although I still don’t understand why Ope’s father tried to keep the fact that she was daughter away from Deji in the first place.
A well thought-out addition to the movie was the choice of songs by Johnny Drille and Simi which added to the romantic mood of the movie without taking away from, or diminishing, the sound of the actors.
Although the story line can be likened to the stories in some Harlequin novels, the director did well in making it all play out as a Nigerian bourgeois love story as it tell us about somebody who is struggling to achieve her goals and dreams, coming back home to deal with the situation we have here in Nigeria, and overcoming in love.
Royal Hibiscus Hotel is now showing at cinemas nationwide.