Up North is a 2018 Nollywood movie produced by Anakle Films and Inkblot Productions, and directed by Tope Oshin. The screenplay was written by Naz Onuzo and Bunmi Ajakaiye and is based on a story from Editi Effiong. The cast includes stars like Banky Wellington, Adesua Etomi and Kanayo O. Kanayo.
Up North is a coming-of-age story that mostly follows Bassey (Banky W), a spoiled and irresponsible heir. Upon completing his studies abroad, Bassey returns home and proves to his father, Chief Otuekong (played by Kanayo O. Kanayo) that he is irresponsible and doesn’t care about the family business.
As a lesson and punishment, Otuekong cuts Bassey’s monthly allowance and forces him to attend NYSC orientation camp in faraway Bauchi. He is to be deployed back to Lagos to join in the family business. But Bassey ends up embracing the experience and decides to serve in Bauchi with his new best friend.
The movie has its moments, but it is still quite flawed. It tries to tell several stories. Bassey’s coming-of-age, the sports life of the schoolgirls he teaches. Two love stories, none of which trigger an emotional connection until the very end.
You get the sense that the movie doesn’t quite know what it wants to be, even though it advertises as a coming-of-age story. Too many things were rushed. Bassey adjusts to life without servants and flashy cars rather quickly. We don’t get to really enjoy the sight of a spoiled kid getting a reality check. We also don’t see a lot of growth. It really is amazing how a movie can fail to connect us to its protagonist and main premise.
The Northern storyline ends up being what draws us in for a while. It is natural to be mesmerized by the culture and natural beauty of Bauchi.
We get to see how a conservative society affects people’s lives. It would have been better if we were shown even a glimpse into the darker side of such a society. At least this storyline wasn’t horribly done. Unlike the love stories, which might have as well not been included in the movie. One of the love interests barely speaks a full-sentence throughout the movie. Instead of romance, they could have focused more on the friendship between Bassey and Sadiq.
Up North has a cast that is an interesting mix of well-known and less known, and great and average. The performance of Banky W, while decent, is nothing to sing praises about, even though he plays the main character.
Rahama Sadau and Adesua Etomi play the love interests, Miriam and Zainab. The latter is silent through most of the film. Michelle Dede, who plays his kind, brilliant older sister, seems to be loved by the camera. It is unfortunate that she wasn’t given a lot to do.
Kanayo O. Kanayo and Hilda Dokubo play Bassey’s parents, and they fit the role perfectly. We get a lot of natural interactions, but sometimes the dialogue is too formal or the script too weak.
The movie boasts impressive cinematography and overall design. The shots of Bauchi’s natural environments are beautiful and made us want to hop on a bus to the state. The costumes are great, especially the outfit the chief has on when he comes to collect his son. The use of social media is also pretty cool. There’s nothing to complain about in these areas.
Up North really could have done with a better script and story. Nollywood doesn’t have a great record when it comes to these kinds of things. We need to learn that good cinematography and star-studded casts aren’t enough.