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Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Message of Embracing Oneself Gets Lost in Translation

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Movie Title: Scarred

Release Date: February, 2023

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Directors: Tope Alake

Runtime: 2 hours, 6 minutes

Cast: Mofe Duncan, Jennifer Obodo, Tope Olowoniyan, Tina Mba, Dr. Jaiye Kuti, Baaj Adebule, and Emem Ufuk.

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While we wait for another rom-com film about star-crossed lovers or a famous actor playing a character often a copy and paste from his previous films, our attention is drawn to Scarred, a 2023 romantic film recently released on Prime Video.

Discrimination remains a prevailing scourge in our society, whether it’s in the form of tribalism, ageism, or sexism. Scarred takes a relatively different approach to tackling this scourge.

The film primarily highlights the prejudice against people based on looks. It tells the story of Amara, a kind-hearted woman who suffers from substantial low self-esteem, hate, and criticism because of a deformity on her face.

Stories like Scarred deserve to be told, especially in the cinema or on big streaming platforms. The film offers a solid moral lesson on why our abnormalities make us unique and is one of the few Nollywood films out there to boast noticeable character development.

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However, Scarred is half-done, joining a long list of Nollywood romantic films that need more flair to keep viewers interested. From the poor line delivery to contradictions around the plot’s standpoint on standard beauty, the film falls victim to poor casting choices and doesn’t practice what it preaches against.

The Plot

Amara is a professional graphic designer whose confidence is diminished by a burn scar on her face. At the film’s beginning, we see her getting ready to date an eligible bachelor. Her friend advises her to wear makeup to cover her scars, but she disagrees, stating that if the guy truly loves her, he will overlook the wounds.

Unfortunately, upon sighting her, the man flares angrily, insulting her. This incident, coupled with her inability to get a job and her getting shunned by her favourite podcaster, Mrs Brown, because of her scars, pushes her to enlist the help of Shola to cover up her scars.

Amara eventually gets a job where she crosses paths with a handsome man, Jason. During their first night out, they cannot deny the sparks between them, thus sharing a romantic kiss. A night out turns into a series of dates, leading to one fateful night when Jason asks Amara to marry him.

In an attempt to console Amara, as she cries during the proposal, a selfless Jason accidentally wipes off her makeup, revealing the scar.

Their relationship gets tested, leaving viewers to wonder if Amara’s insecurity would prevent her from having a happily ever after or if Jason would be unable to forgive her for lying and accept her for her proper form.

The Good

As mentioned earlier, Scarred explores a theme that must be discussed. It was eye-opening to watch Amara navigate a biased world where discrimination was the order of the day. We watched how a podcaster who taught self-love and acceptance belittled her and how the company’s founder had her a job because he felt she did not reflect the image of his company.

In its way, Scarred depicts the reality of women who society requires to look a certain way. If they don’t fit the standard, they are immediately deemed unattractive. Scarred preaches that you should come as you are and not care about people’s opinions, and you will find someone who loves you authentically.

The film also boasts of the acting prowess of Jaiye Kuti and Tina Mba, whose performances buttress their title as “Nollywood veterans.”

Character development is another thing Scarred gets right. We watch Amara go from insecure to proud, Mrs Brown go from discriminating to accepting, Amara’s unforgiving nature becomes a total opposite, accepting Mrs Brown’s apologies, and Jason evolves from being undecisive to knowing what he wants (Amara) and not allowing anyone, including his mother, to stand in his way.

The Bad

Scarred’s message of acceptance misses the mark at the film’s end. On her wedding day, Amara’s scars are gone, revealing she underwent plastic surgery. This contradicts the entire idea of the film, as the whole point was to show Amara finding beauty in her scars. While there might be an argument that since she already accepted herself, she can decide to get plastic surgery done, the issue is that getting plastic surgery done at the end of the film makes no sense because it’s something she could have done a long time ago, sparing herself from the hate and ridicule.

Jaiye Kuti in a scene from Scarred

The film gets dragged down a lot. There were many unnecessary scenes, like the flashbacks. The flashbacks, except the last, were irrelevant because they added nothing to the film’s progression. They kept reminding us of how Amara was bullied for her scars and teasing Mrs. Brown’s past. Rather than informing viewers of what they already know through the flashbacks, it would have been great to have many scenes depicting Amara and Jason’s chemistry.

Amara and Jason’s relationship isn’t even close to the top 40 most romantic relationships in Nollywood films. These people barely had heartfelt conversations on the first date and were already kissing or catching feelings. It was weird and too fast-paced. It would have been a great choice to watch Jason struggle with his feelings for Amara while being with his absent girlfriend, Zoe.

The scripting of Scarred is quite applaudable; this is about its dialogue. Unfortunately, the potential of the dialogues is watered down thanks to poor delivery lines. This can easily be attributed to the actors’ inability to understand the characters fully. For example, the actor who played Michael, rather than researching the nuances behind effeminate men, took every stereotype he could find and exaggerated them to be funny.

Again, dear Nollywood producers, please refrain from excessive use of soundtracks, especially during dialogues. In addition to the excessive use of background music, Scarred editors or producers also make the mistake of using background music that fails to match the scene. For example, a pop-like, fast-paced sound was played during a romantic scene.

Watch the trailer

Final Verdict

5/10. Watch it. Scarred might possess an element of hypocrisy, but the film’s first half offers a logical argument for the need for self-acceptance. The film also reminds you that brands like Pepsi and Dano still exist, thanks to their glaring product placements.

Scarred is now streaming on Prime Video.

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