A Young Time Ago (2023)

A Young Time Ago (2023)

A pointless and shoddily-made drama that uses rape to try and fish for attention



Drama, Fantasy
Daniel Etim Effiong, Mofehintolaoluwa Jebutu, Timini Egbuson
111 min


A film that joins an exclusive list of movies for absolutely nobody.

What it's about

A man recounts his involvement in the mistaken imprisonment of a friend after the mysterious rape of the woman he loved in university.

The take

Shockingly little happens throughout A Young Time Ago's nearly two-hour runtime, and the little that does happen is all so poorly thought-out. As we're introduced to protagonist Tayo at a bar, a woman whom he doesn't know insists on hearing his love story—which turns out to be a story about how supernatural forces seem to have orchestrated the rape of the woman he once loved in school, and how a singer who was last seen with her tries to wash his hands of any suspicion (even if he thinks that he actually might've raped her anyway). It's an already tasteless and nonsensical plot that leads nowhere. Characters talk vaguely about who's to blame and how they can evade the fallout of the crime, while the survivor never really gets a voice or an opportunity to reclaim her control over what's happened to her.

The performances are awkward at best and totally inauthentic at worst, often leading to unintentionally hilarious line readings. And the overall technical package, while not necessarily bad, is just so flat and lifeless that it becomes impossible to track the film's emotional trajectory. And while we should consider ourselves fortunate to be able to see films from countries like Nigeria, which don't normally get a boost from mainstream streamers, we should always remember that a film this ill-conceived shouldn't represent the local industry it comes from.

What stands out

Of all the baffling choices that A Young Time Ago makes, its frame story of Tayo at the bar makes the entire thing truly indecipherable. Without spoiling anything, the film arrives at a big reveal at the end which is executed with just as much elegance and dramatic timing as a bunch of children wrapping up their school play because they've run out of time. And as the frame story concludes, the other characters emphasize how "beautiful" Tayo's story is. It's unclear whether the beauty they're referring to is the rape of a woman, or the fact that Tayo managed to be "selfless" throughout this whole ordeal, helping his fellow troubled men and not the woman who actually needs justice. Good for you, Tayo, for the absolute bare minimum.


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