Fine Wine, a romantic comedy directed by Seyi Babatope, inverses the ideology that a younger in love with a rich, much older man, is an opportunist. This well-weaved story takes place with brilliant acting and pacing that makes you glued to the end, making it worthwhile for anyone who is a sucker for mushy romance.
A lonely but rich 55-year-old man genuinely falls in love with a younger woman. He finds himself in the crossfire of society and in competition with a younger man for her heart.
On Valentine’s Day, the movie hit the big screens in Nigeria but struggled to gross an average figure of N26.20 million in cumulated ticket sales. Nine months later, Netflix Nigeria licenses the rom-com for its streaming library and sets a Nov 24th debut. Upon its arrival, the flick goes ahead to become the number 1 movie watched (48 hours post-release), besting Bruised, an American Netflix original directed by Halle Berry,
Let’s break down some fine points that make this film an excellent wine to drink and why Nigerians love it.
Richard Mofe Damijo
Richard Mofe Damijo as Seye George is a masterstroke for a Nollywood casting. The veteran actor who is known for his baby boy looks deftly slips into this character and makes the on-screen romance swaying.
Seye is a divorced, rich man at the pinnacle of his career. The film opens with him being listed as one of the Forbes 100 richest Africans. His office also celebrates with him on his 55th birthday. But there is a frown on his face that says something is wrong. What could that possibly be – a conversation with his best friend reveals and setups the love story.
Again, who else can play an old but catchy lad who fell in love with a young woman and can make the audience not see the significant age difference – it’s this guy, RMD.
Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey
It’s been a minute since Nigerian veteran actor Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey appeared on our screens. So, you can imagine the delight when a new scene beams up, and the lead character’s best friend is revealed to be played by Keppy Ekpeyong Bassey.
Bassey plays a wealthy close friend who teases Seye about his loneliness. Their conversation hints at his promiscuous lifestyle, which he recommends as a fix for Seye to get his life bouncing post-divorce.
Blessing Nwosu plays Kaima, the young female interest that falls in love with an older guy whilst she’s in a relationship with an egocentric young chap. A mess, right? To play this character is to be open and vulnerable at the same time.
Not entirely certain, but this might be Blessing’s first lead in a feature film. Two mighty reasons exist why she might have given an underwhelming interpretation to the utter disservice of the character. First, she had to match her male lead’s (RMD) years of acting experience. Second, her acting range might not have been expansive enough to accommodate the different inflexion points in the story.
The points mentioned above, and other factors are a truck of pressure parked at her front door. Does she succumb? The answer lies in the proposal scene and when the right man finds her. They were all lacking in the right amount of sparks.
Adedoyin Ademola as Tunji
Without Tunji, the romantic comedy would have lost its right or wrong compass. Ademola tries to play this compass as his interpretation can allow.
Tunji is that boyfriend who has an enormous ego. Individuals like this come off as confident, condescending, and assertive. Ego is only there to serve itself, and therefore relationships with Tunjis’ are doomed to fail.
So, Ademola delivers on the condescending part, but that’s all we get. Undoubtedly more acting nuances could have played on screen for us to experience this deeper level of ego which would have certainly elevated the film. However, the stuck-up side of Tunji is served, and to some extent, it does an average job.
Zainab Balogun as Temisan George
For every good movie, there is always a plot twist. In fine wine, the daughter of the rich lead character accepts that her dad can date a lady who is her age mate. Under normal circumstances, Temisan should serve as an obstacle and sabotage this love story. But that doesn’t happen. Instead, she is the cute fixer who mends the final fallout in the movie.
Nse Nkpe Etim as Ame
Veteran Actress Nse plays Ame, the darling ex-wife. Three scenes in and out, Ame doesn’t visit but instead calls in over the internet. This means we don’t get to see Nse’s chemistry and prowess. Instead, we get a cropped version on a web call. Plain sad and a waste of such established talent.
And here is where the big comma comes in. So, imagine an individual listed on any Forbes list of rich men, one would expect some over-the-top level of class and affluence – but as portrayed in fine wine, it doesn’t quite meet the level you’d expect.
Whiplash, jump cuts, freeze frames. Fine wine was poorly edited with no intentional transitions. Save for the storyline and build-up to the big reveal.
Great romcoms are defined by their touching moments, and one of the most effective methods to create connections with the leads is through music. For this part, fine wine falls short immensely.
One wonders if an original soundtrack wasn’t considered to elevate the touching parts in the story, or if there wasn’t enough budget to execute on this at all. What a miss.
With this aspect botched in the 2-hour length picture, it is now glaring that Fine wine had severe budget issues. At one point, in between scenes, we were straining to hear the actors’ dialogue. At another, the background music was really loud for no reason. The sound was really over the place, which almost ruined the good parts of the film.
Fine wine gives us a sweet ride on romance clichés. If more flavour, affluence, and extravagance had been sprinkled on its design, as well as a proper original soundtrack, the picture would have raised the bar for a Nigeran Rom-Com. All in all, on-screen chemistry, tackling age-gap romance and telling us that love happens anytime, anywhere – Fine wine makes us get this and leave us feeling good but not without some sour points.