Film Review: Taxi Driver (Oke Ashewo)

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Director: Daniel Oriahi

Producer: Ayobami Macaulay and Daniel Oriahi

Featuring: Femi Jacobs, Ijeoma Grace Agu, Odunlade Adekola and Hafeez Oyetoro.

Taxi Driver is getting another premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival (TIFF 2017). Of all the unreleased films screening at Toronto, Taxi Driver and the Arbitration make it to the list of films to be screened at the film festival. Shockingly, Taxi Driver was released about 10 months ago.

It is a revelation of a job well done, still getting recognition and still in the midst of our conversation, despite all the new films being released every month.

Taxi Driver follows Adigun who visits Lagos from Ibadan, a city his father left them for. He arrives in Lagos to meet a busy, crazy city. Filled with different people and an intoxicating lifestyle that in fact, does not intoxicate anybody, you cannot escape the lifestyle, you join them or you run out by leaving Lagos. Every part presents him with new characters, different people from prostitutes, to assassins and robbers. Adigun wants to make life happen by any means and in Lagos he learns that life there offers everyone a tough chance, you choose to be good and strive or you fall for the high life.

The first scene of Taxi Driver exposes us to the Lagos we don’t see online most often. When I think of Lagos, I think of it as the hub of creative minds, actors, directors, script writer, popular TV presenters, and of course musicians. It is almost like you cannot make it from anywhere but Lagos. If you make it in Lagos, you make it everywhere. The life in Lagos that is portrayed to us is of beautiful dresses, happy-merry people, always in the mood for some party but Taxi Driver is a different perspective. It portrays the Lagos of crime. We have heard of that part of Lagos too, only that we don’t believe it as much as we believe in the “Dreams Come True” Lagos. Taxi Driver makes us believe that, there is a busyness that comes with Lagos from the first scene, we see a city that never rests and the people have to make life happen. The preacher in the car disturbing passengers, some of them reek of exhaustion. Some of them want a little sleep before they get to their destination, but it does not stop the preacher from doing his bid, which could be his own form of livelihood.

In Taxi Driver, criminals try to outdo each other. It is the survival of the fittest; it is like a chain of business, each criminal trying to get ahead in the chain, this is best portrayed when Adigun while trying to get used to the Taxi life picks the wrong people in his Tom Kruz( as they call the cars), unknown to him they are robbers. They are after the  money he has made driving Taxi through the whole day and he is after his own stipend for transporting them, so even at that point, meeting armed robbers, Adigun is more concerned about his money. That is the greatest scene of intrigue in Taxi Driver. Adigun fills us with pity yet with kind humour. He falls for the Lagos life and with a great portrayal of Adigun, Femi Jacobs serves us with a character that is lovable despite all the unhidden flaws. He falls for the Lagos life, yet we root for him and that is what good acting does, it makes you take sides even when you shouldn’t and Femi Jacobs delivers Adigun to us in such a way that we cannot ignore him. We choose to love him instead.

The story has its twists; of course, Adigun is not the only character that strikes us. There are many other characters, some we meet briefly but not without a story. Delia (Ijeoma Grace Agu) is in Lagos to survive too, she has a work but not the conventional type of work, she is a mistress. It is one of her escapades that make her cross path with Adigun. He is hired by her boyfriend to take her around. What we get is the hatred they share for each other but shared experiences allow growth and they are able to bond because Lagos has given them both a bit of its magic.

At the end of Taxi Driver the very important question is, is this Lagos? Should we that have never been there aspire to a Lagos life? And those there, do they go through this and still remain there?

Of course, the first criterion that Taxi Driver portrays of the city is that it offers no option but of survival and that is the option that life offers us everywhere. That is why Taxi Driver wins. A skillful, well directed and written piece that stirs enough interest and also is a rare offer from what we are used to. We get to see films similar to this but none has quite done what Taxi driver manages to do.

 

 

About the Author

Rejoice is a 21-year-old  aspiring Filmmaker and a big dreamer. She’s also a ‘Theatre and film’ arts graduate from the University of Jos, Nigeria.

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