Movie Reviews

Different Strokes Review: Too Predictable Yet Insightful

While the movie excels in capturing the essence of marital challenges, some may find its narrative lacking in unexpected twists or turns.

Different Strokes review
Different Strokes cover [PHOTO CREDIT: Premium Times]

Our Different Strokes review highlights the good, the bad and the ugly from the new Nollywood bluckster. In the realm of Nigerian cinema, the intricacies of marriage have been a recurring theme, shedding light on the challenges many couples face. ‘Different Strokes’, directed by Biodun Stephen, was released in March 2023 and premiered on Amazon Prime on March 8, 2024. While ‘Different Strokes’ boasts commendable character development and performances, as well as a relatable storyline for many Nigerian women, it treads familiar ground without offering any groundbreaking plot twists.

The narrative revolves around four friends—Onyinye, Manila, Lydia, and Dunni—each grappling with their marital struggles and attempting to navigate through them.

Plot

Mercy Johnson’s portrayal of Lydia in ‘Different Strokes’ delves deep into the complexities of her character. Despite battling infertility and enduring her husband’s infidelity, Lydia meticulously crafts an illusion of marital bliss to her friends, masking the underlying turmoil. The envy her seemingly perfect marriage to Alex Cole portrayed by Jim Iyke incites among her friends contrasts sharply with the harsh reality she faces behind closed doors. Alex’s continuous acts of promiscuity exacerbate Lydia’s pain, while the presence of Alex’s mother played by Shaffy Bello and Mosun played by Bukunmi Adeaga-Ilori otherwise known as KieKie compounds her frustrations. Even in the presence of her husband, Lydia is subjected to disrespect and humiliation, largely due to her inability to conceive. However, the revelation that Lydia is the true proprietor of their assets and even holds a position of power as the CEO of their company adds a surprising layer to their relationship dynamics, highlighting the intricacies of their marriage.

Onyinye portrayed by Lilian Esoro embodies elegance, sassiness, and a carefree spirit, reveling in luxury and intimate connections. However, her husband  Khalid, portrayed by Etim Effiong has a relentless dedication to his career and leaves little room to balance work and fulfil Onyinye’s high sexual needs. As Khalid ascends the professional ladder, his increasing workload strains their relationship, pushing Onyinye to seek solace elsewhere. Faced with neglect, Onyinye ventures into extramarital affairs, seeking fulfilment in fleeting encounters with other men. In a desperate bid to have it all, she resorts to cunning tactics that result in her having an affair with Lydia’s husband, Alex Cole. Through her trials, Onyinye learns the harsh truth that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side.

Dunni portrayed by Mosun Filani Oduoye, initially a laid-back wife and mother, made a pact with her husband to prioritize homemaking over her career. However, their agreement took a tumultuous turn when her husband lost his job, rendering him unable to meet their financial responsibilities. The ensuing tension

prompted her husband Olayemi, portrayed by Deyemi Okanlawon, to subject her to emotional and physical abuse, ultimately leading Dunni to separate from him with the intention of embracing singlehood and freedom indefinitely. While Olayemi’s character development is commendable, it leaves viewers questioning the sincerity of his efforts to change and reconcile with Dunni. Is his desire to mend their relationship genuine, or is Dunni merely a “good luck charm” for him to regain financial stability? This lingering uncertainty adds complexity to their narrative and invites reflection on the intricacies of forgiveness and second chances in marriage.

Manila’s character portrayed by Blessing Jessica marital struggles stemmed from the physical changes she experienced post-pregnancy. Her husband, Tade, grew increasingly resentful of her altered appearance and weight gain, subjecting her to verbal and emotional abuse whenever the opportunity arose. Tade’s indifference extended beyond Manila’s appearance, as he neglected both their home and their ailing child, ultimately leading to their son’s tragic demise. Despite being granted a second chance at motherhood, Manila’s story ends in tragedy. 

While ‘Different Strokes’ offers valuable lessons, particularly regarding marital dynamics, there is room for improvement in the execution of its subplots

Cast

Lilian Esoro delivered a standout performance in her portrayal of Onyinye in ‘Different Strokes’. Her interpretation of the character was impeccable, effectively capturing the essence of Onyinye’s frustrations and making her portrayal incredibly relatable and believable. 

While Mercy Johnson’s depiction of Lydia in ‘Different Strokes’ was commendable, there was an anticipation for a deeper exploration of her character’s storyline. Many viewers had hoped for a twist revealing that Lydia’s infertility was not solely her responsibility, leading to a resolution where she receives an apology from her in-laws providing a more satisfying resolution for her character.

Deyemi Okanlawon consistently breathes life into his characters, and while some viewers may have desired more depth from his portrayal in ‘Different Strokes’ he nonetheless brought Olayemi to life with his performance. However, Etim Effiong and Jim Iyke’s performances were somewhat basic.

Lateef’s portrayal of Tade appeared somewhat believable, although there were some noticeable flaws in his execution of the role.

Mosun Filani and Blessing Jessica also succeeded in infusing vitality into their respective characters, contributing to the overall authenticity of the movie 

Language

Onyiye’s incorporation of the Igbo language, Dunni’s incorporation of the Yoruba language, and Manila’s distinctive use of Pidgin English provided the film with just the right amount of flavour and authenticity.

In summary, ‘Different Strokes’ presents viewers with a captivating journey through the complexities of marriage, skillfully navigating the intricacies of relationships with depth and authenticity. The film’s strength lies in its stellar performances and relatable themes, which resonate deeply with audiences. While ‘Different Strokes’ excels in capturing the essence of marital challenges, some may find its narrative lacking in unexpected twists or turns. 

Different Strokes Review
5.4
Review Overview
Summary

Despite these minor shortcomings, ‘Different Strokes’ remains a compelling watch, offering valuable insights into the intricacies of love, intimacy, and partnership. It serves as a poignant reminder that marriage is a journey filled with highs and lows, and that true strength lies in the ability to navigate through them together.

  • Costumes6
  • Casting7
  • Plot4
  • Setting6
  • Story4
Watch 'Different Strokes' on Prime Video

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