When ‘Kasanova’ is the title of a rom-com, you expect a movie about a ladies’ man. His heart is conquered by a feisty woman who does not fall for his charms and brings out the romantic in him.
Unfortunately, entertaining the mere idea of this might be more fulfilling than actually watching this 2019 movie.
Kasanova was produced by Eddy Young and Faith Ojo and directed by Oluseyi Asurf. It was written by three people – Tomi Adesina, Ugochukwu Isreal and director Oluseyi Asurf. With three writers, you would think we would get the rom-com we deserve. Kasanova is not bad, just unfulfilling,. It does have you smiling at the end.
Femi, played by the charismatic Wale Ojo, is supposed to be the philanderer. Yet, we only see him with one woman apart from Jessica, the female lead, played by the talented Ireti Doyle. This is forgivable – we do not need to watch a montage of him picking up women. The synopsis is straightforward. After losing his wife, a single father indulges in flimsy flings – until meeting his son’s music teacher, who imparts a few lessons on love.
We go in expecting to watch them slowly fall in love. The widower and the divorcée. Two people whose hearts have been broken, who do not know if they will ever love again. But in one scene they are in the talking stage, and in the next, they are declaring their love and giving each other spare house keys.
We are deprived of sweet drama, tension and realization. The movie skips straight to the obligatory misconception that leads to nearly every rom-com break up. The movie is almost two hours long, yet the romance is incredibly rushed. So much time is wasted on the dynamic between their teenage undergraduate children Ini (Ruby Akubueze) and Jason (Alvin Abayomi).
Despite the plot holes and some annoying inconsistencies, the little romance we get still manages to be heartwarming. Wale Ojo is good at playing the former Casanova who is now in love with his son’s teacher. He looks and smiles at her like she’s an angel. And Ireti Doyle is perfect as the divorcée who doesn’t trust men, especially not a former ladies’ man, but can’t help her feelings. Jessica clearly suppresses herself, and her smirks may lie, but her shy smiles tell the truth. But there is an enemy to their chemistry.
The dialogue is forced and often too formal, thanks to the script, and the actors clearly struggled with this. The scripting is such a problem that the talented cast often come across as amateurs with little chemistry. This is not the case, and a simple experiment proves it. Mute the movie and read the subtitles as you watch their faces. All of a sudden they all look like the professionals they are (though not always). Even better, turn off the subtitles so you don’t have to read the overly formal and unnatural dialogue.
Though there are cringeworthy moments, the movie is a lot of fun and there were some great scenes. Like Jason’s singing, which can be interpreted in two ways. He is purposely being extra horrible to traumatize Jessica, his music teacher, or he is so assured that he is pop star material that he cannot comprehend that he has no talent. Either way, it is hilarious, and it turns out, he just wants to terrorize poor Jessica.
Unilag looks beautiful – the entire movie’s set design is actually so good. A small comfort.
Nollywood has two enemies; plots, and endings. Don’t know how to end a movie? Introduce a ridiculous plot twist! Kasanova avoids this and simply gives us a very anticlimactic ending. Maybe this is small mercy – Jessica could have turned out to be Femi’s late wife, who actually didn’t die and got plastic surgery.
Pictures: Copyright Asurf Films