Adapted from the 2010 novel of the identical identify by Nigerian-American creator Sefi Atta, Swallow arrives on Netflix through the streamer’s three-picture take care of Nigerian filmmaker Kunle Afolayan (CEO, October 1, The Figurine). Tolani is a secretary with an unbiased streak in Nineteen Eighties Lagos. What number of methods will she need to sacrifice her worth system simply to try to get by?
SWALLOW: STREAM IT OR SKIP IT?
The Gist: Lagos, Nigeria, 1985. The nation is within the grip of The Warfare Towards Indiscipline, a top-down social program put in by the army dictatorship that’s speculated to “introduce sanity” to the life-style of on a regular basis Nigerians. However Tolani (Eniola Akinbo) and her pal and roommate Rose (Ijeoma Grace Agu) are extra frightened concerning the injustices they encounter in their very own day by day lives. On the financial institution the place they work, the bureaucratic busywork of mortgage functions and enterprise correspondence appears to maintain a monetary system that solely advantages the managers and their huge cash pals, and oafish bosses harass them, freed from accountability. It’s a wrestle simply to get by. However, Tolani and Rose are proud to be unbiased girls.
After Rose, fed up, walks out on the financial institution, she quickly takes up with OC (Kelvin Ikeduba), who has connections overseas, a formidable assortment of stereo tools, and the means to cowl her lease. Tolani, in the meantime, remains to be ready on longtime boyfriend Sanwo (Deyemi Okanlawon) to get an actual job and suggest. It’s additionally getting more durable and more durable to endure the lecherous habits of her boss Salako (Kehinde Segun Remi). She thinks again to what her mom instructed her, again in Makoku. “Shield your repute. Don’t let life or any man take it away from you.” And that’s when Rose tells Tolani how OC makes all his cash. He’s a smuggler with a steady of feminine drug mules, and Rose is his newest recruit.
Tolani is mortified by the prospect of placing medication in her physique to later evacuate in some dingy airport lavatory in London or Atlanta. And it doesn’t jibe together with her worth system, to be an adjunct to some international stranger’s toxic behavior. However Rose’s assurances are engaged on her, and the cash — $1500 a visit — is engaging. Would she simply be buying and selling in a single grasp, the low-level tyrant Salako, for the patronage of one other, the damaging OC? Tolani is in turmoil, at the same time as Rose excitedly prepares for her first run as a mule. “Be content material with what you have got,” Tolani remembers her father saying. And she or he is. However is there extra to life than this?
What Films Will It Remind You Of? There are parallels right here with the terrific 2004 movie Maria Full of Grace, which netted Catalina Sandino Moreno an Academy Award nomination for her position as a younger, determined Colombian lady who will get caught up within the drug mule enterprise. And Netflix incorporates a sturdy complement of “Nollywood” titles — Deyemi Okanlawon, for instance, who performs the good-hearted Sanwo right here, co-stars within the authorized drama Fort & Fort.
Efficiency Value Watching: Ijeoma Grace Agu (Taxi Driver, Sylvia) is great right here as Rose, whose independence manifests as a fiery streak of don’t-give-a-fuck-ness. She performs Rose as a lady who’s all the time in management, it doesn’t matter what, even when life seems bleak, and her spirit is immediately interesting.
Memorable Dialogue: “Nothing will change till you and I modify it,” an indignant Rose tells Tolani, explaining the drug mule setup to her. “And I’m not ashamed,” she says of ingesting the drug packets. “You what shames me? Poverty. And it ought to disgrace you, too.”
Intercourse and Pores and skin: None.
Our Take: Swallow retains its titular motion at arm’s size till the movie’s closing third, selecting as a substitute to flesh out the speedy world Tolani and Rose reside in. And that selection works, as a result of we come to know the place these girls are coming from. They reside merely, however are happy with what they’ve. However they’re much more happy with what’s inside, and the dignity that drives them. That’s why it’s so irritating, watching them be compelled to navigate the absurd Catch-22s of labor tradition on the financial institution simply to eke out a residing within the metropolis. They deserve higher. And so, despite the fact that OC is clearly to not be trusted, Rose’s confidence within the drug mule scheme is contagious even to the viewer. As she places it, why ought to she concern herself with the ramifications? She’ll spend her $1500 on a brand new fan for the house, on new sneakers for trekking, and let some wealthy child in London snort up the medication that got here out of an African lady’s ass. And it’s as a result of we all know her so properly that the results of the movie’s closing third are so gutting.
Buoyed by the connection between Rose and Tolani at its heart, Swallow additionally has loads to say concerning the affect of elders and different clever folks within the modern lives they lead. Moms and dads, and the older girls within the neighborhood — Swallow retains returning to them, and it’s their phrases that every lady returns to additionally, each for inspiration and to make the excellence between them and their very own era.
Our Name: STREAM IT. Swallow brings its characters and Nineteen Eighties Lagos to life, and asks the central query: how far will you go to get by, whereas holding your dignity intact?
Johnny Loftus is an unbiased author and editor residing at massive in Chicagoland. His work has appeared in The Village Voice, All Music Information, Pitchfork Media, and Nicki Swift. Observe him on Twitter: @glennganges
https://decider.com/2021/10/04/swallow-2021-netflix-review/ | Stream It or Skip It?