Femi Branch, Tamara Eteimo, Sambasa Nzeribe, Jennifer Igbinovia, Dianne Chukwu, Mary Uranta
Two sisters living in the water slums in Lagos jump at the opportunity to go to the city after repeated misfortune, however when they reach their destination further misfortune awaits.
Hotel Choco is the story of two daughters from a poor home in the slum who survive the slum only to find themselves living in a foreign country and under a prostitution ring. The elder sister does everything within her power to protect her teenage sister from the life that the ring presents. She is determined to get them out of there but life might have different plans for them.
Hotel Choco had me at the sharp introduction scenes, it had me with the boats on the water with sheds all around where people lived. Hotel Choco had me at cinematography, in the first few scenes it was almost as though the director was as desperate to make sure the viewer doesn’t miss any part of the slum experience as I was to experience the slum through the camera. Who am I kidding? Yes! Hotel Choco had me at Femi – actor of life – Branch.
But Hotel Choco loses steam. Somewhere after we leave the slums, somewhere after the main characters are all introduced, somewhere after the wedding dress, somewhere after we enter Hotel Choco. Somewhere in there it loses its captivating and just fails to create a connection. Somewhere in there, Tamara’s voice narrating the troubles was just not very troubling. Somewhere in there you question your own humanity because you don’t feel as bad as you should. The movie looses steam somewhere in there.
It might be the time constraints. The fact that this movie could only be so long but there was so much unexplored. For instance the story of the girl’s arrival into the brothel could have been better introduced. One minute we have little children travelling to the city with their late mother’s friends and the next moment everyone is speaking French. Que?
The next thing in this movie that gets you is Sambasa Nzeribe and his wedding dress. I must say that for a thug, he carries it very well. The writer does us a solid, in a manner that nollywood tends not to, and actually explains the reason for the dress – and the explanation make sense.
The performers did well in this movie, we even see the lady who plays Aunty B speaking three languages (English, French and Hindi?). From Femi Branch in his few scenes to Sambasa and Tamara, regardless of her occasional over-exaggerated scenes. It’s clear that the movie had intentions towards greatness but somewhere in between the writing gets lazy and it settles for the position of just ‘a good movie’.