Film Review: “Sheila” Is Not Your Conventional Story
“Sheila” is not your conventional story — that’s one way to describe the film. But given the full-length drama, there are more words besides unconventional that fit the bill. From the beginning, you believe you’ve figured it out until you get to the ultimate plot twist which takes you on a jolly ride through another genre.
“Sheila” is dark, sad, funny and even weird in a ‘walking through walls’ kind of way. It’s one of those films you watch believing you know the end, but then you get the shock of your life. The end is very much as unpredictable as the splendid cast that makes up the film.
Although the film borders on Mystery, it highlights many other genres such as tragic-comedy. Dele Ishola wrote, produced, edited and directed the 2019 Say Something African production.
Prior to watching the trailer, the first thing that strikes you is the poster. It shows the image of a young woman seemingly in agony who looks like she has the world on her shoulders. It had me wondering what was up with her.
The lead character, Sheila, was played by Tobi Igbenoba, a Nigerian actress who bagged her first role in DBS MEDIA “Living in Lagos” in 2009. She so far has played in eight feature films, nine stage plays, and nine web series. She was also a lead character in the 2019 Rare Edge Media film, “Lovish”. “Shiela” would be her first Mystery drama.
What highlighted the creativity in this particular film would be the casting. Other members of the cast include Michael O. Ejoor, Okechi Enyi, Tessy Brown, Tega Olosa.
The film begins in what appears to be an anti-climax. Don’t fall for this trick. Although the lead character is injured, due to a car accident, there’s more to the story than just the precedent.
Sheila is the stereotypical definition of a b*tch. In the beginning, her reaction to her mother’s death makes you want to scream “You deserved to die” after she gets hit by a car. Right after the news about her mother’s death, she starts talking about an interview and so begins the hateful relationship between the viewers and Sheila.
However, the flashbacks she gets from her childhood points to a likely cause of her hardcore behaviour. If being harsh isn’t bad enough, add a serious case of OCD to it. However, her hardcore scales begin to fall off as the film progresses.
The first glimpse of the trailer raises a lot of questions:
- Is Sheila a ghost?
- Does she die?
- Why is she in such a hurry?
- Does Sheila have a twin sister?
- Who is Sheila?
Trust me, you can’t help but ponder over puzzling dialogues and crazy scenes. It’s either the trailer editor did a great job evoking and then playing on your curiosity, or they missed out on some details that would scream to viewers, “You’re about to watch a film about a bad b*tch who gets her well-deserved dues.” After watching the film, you can’t help but develop a love-hate relationship for the protagonist, Sheila.
The beginning of the film gives you a sense of belonging. The members of the cast are flawless in their deliveries. This then makes it easy for you to believe the story being told. There’s also a sense of continuity and fluidity in their gestures that gives you a comprehension of what they are trying to portray. Although, in her first appearance, the female staff didn’t have much of a strong and easy delivery of her role; eventually, she owns the character in a way that makes you accept her long eyelashes as something she would likely wear. She’s a funny personality that captures the easygoing character she plays.
Before you decide to sit back and click on the link to watch the film, you need to be aware that it is 3 hours long. It’s definitely long enough to make you consider your data running short, your time loss, and even the cramps you may get from sitting too long. Another reason you may get discouraged is that there aren’t really any notable faces. I almost fell prey to the temptation of skipping out on this film, but then I realised not all notable actors can actually act to save their lives.
More “Sheila” spoilers
However, a few minutes into the film, there would probably be a new fan-base for the lead characters of “Sheila”. It’s less about how they look and more about how they choose to deliver their lines.
“You treat me like an employee with benefits…” Tobore, Sheila’s supposed boyfriend says.
For why he sticks around in spite of this, she insinuates, “Or better still, you think I have a lot of money.” She’s cocky like that. In spite of her harsh way with words, he sticks around. So, there is definitely romance cooking here for you.
The eighteenth minute of the film helps you understand how realistic this story is. Sheila slumps – won’t reveal why – but she wakes up on her own with no one running in and saying “Aunty Sheila! Or “Madam!”. She’s a b*tch and a lonely one at that so she had to call the driver after she woke up. The driver then helps her to the hospital where she finds out she had lung cancer and not pneumonia, which she had been treating. Sheila then finds out that she has six months to live.
That’s a lot to take in for someone who figured the world revolved around her right? Well, the love-filled relationship between Sheila and viewers would begin soon. It may be slow but it will be steady and real.
Sheila the Movie is a delicate mix of narrative and dialogue. This helps you focus on the expression of the actor at the particular scene, merging the narrative with the emotions.
Be warned, however! The film isn’t so serious if you think it is. Well, as far as death goes, it’s serious; but to be honest, who wants to sob for three hours straight? A viewer wants to get angry, sad, shocked and even smile or maybe laugh while rolling on the floor. That’s what you get here, a mix of emotions.
There were a few obstacles to aiding the ease of these emotions. For one, the music was fine but not enough to keep the viewers’ attention. The soundtrack was more melodramatic but a few alterations could have been made to resonate with the heartbeat of listeners. For instance, in my opinion, using a trending Nigerian song for the romance scene would have been a better alternative than the unknown track used.
Also, there are sound problems in some parts. There’s nothing more annoying than when you have to strain your ear to hear what someone said. Or maybe it’s an echo sound where one microphone decided to be turned off in that particular scene. This makes it clear you’re watching a movie and it cuts the flow of concentration immediately.
Meanwhile, in the film, Sheila’s profession and age aren’t clearly defined. There could have been an easier way of doing this from the onset rather than waiting for the near end. It was during a conversation with her neighbor that she mentioned she was a blogger. This raised questions for the decoration team who could have done a better job in creating a better office for the protagonist. The office used was more administrative than that of a Nigerian blogger. A better-decorated room would have gone a long way in clarifying the profession of the lead character earlier in the film.
Just when you decide to be a good person, life plays tricks on you, “Another bites the dust.”
After her accident and death, Sheila goes to a place that’s clearly not meant to be earth. Nevertheless, you can see earthly chairs. The OATT (Oga at the top) gives instructions for her to be sent back with conditions. Sheila is such a bad b*tch, even negotiates after death. If you were the OATT, what would you do if this happens?
When her soul returns to her body, she is on a stretcher with a white sheet over her head. Okay, Sheila had a car accident and there was blood oozing from her flesh. However, there was no bloodstain on the white sheet covering her. Was she cleaned up before being carried? We would never know.
While the film keeps tickling your belly, you suddenly are presented with another unexpected twist. Someone dies (won’t say who). Sheila is present during the death of this person and she is seen with a bloody bottom left of her shirt in the first scene. Then after a jump cut she is seen in a bathtub crying. The bloodstain has magically jumped to the top left of her shirt. Continuity wasn’t so cleanly done there.
“Sheila” isn’t about a bad b*tch who then has an accident and has an awakening. Sure, she’s b*tchy and did have an accident, but there’s more to it. If that was it then the term ‘conventional’ would be a perfect description. But there’s a plot twist that takes you on a roller coaster of what the outcome would be.
There are four things that stand out in the film, “Sheila”:
- Firstly, the brilliance of the video editing makes watching the film fun. Those little message pop-ups, notes and the projected images make it more than the regular YouTube drama. One likeable standout moment is the scene of the car accident. The sound gives you the 3D effect any regular cinema visitor would appreciate. All that’s left are your glasses to complete the realistic effect.
- There are some major members of the cast that stand out. It’s rare to find a film with people who aren’t notable yet grab your attention. Everyone does a good job of delivering their lines – except one young man with no name. When Sheila goes in search of an old classmate, she meets a young man who seems to be some sort of rip-off Kingdom film actor. Imagine a four year old reciting a memory verse – that’s exactly how he sounded. But the bad acting is a great comic relief if you’re into that kind of thing. Meanwhile, a lot of pros make up for the cons, and the lead character is a pro. Sheila (Tobi Igbenoba) killed her role. The acting from the beginning to the very end was so natural.
- The time frame given was apt – we checked. The countdown till the seven days ultimatum was complete makes it easy to follow the film and know what’s happening when. However, the first “PRESENT DAY” insert was irrelevant. It was clear it was the present day because Sheila had a bandage on her head following her state on the hospital bed.
- The location must have taken a lot of work and expenses, but there was no stopping the team apparently. You would probably lose count of the number of locations used in this film. Some accolades are well deserved for the effort.
All hail the continuity!
Sheila threw her shoe after dying and became the one-shoed ghost as she entered the holy place of judgment. I honestly wished the place looked more supernatural. It has lights through the windows and entrance, and that’s commendable for the lighting team. However, the props weren’t top-notch. There should have been better seats – probably one that emitted lights as well.
Could the possibility of one man being responsible for most of the vital parts of this film be the reason it stands out? Whether it stands out for good or for barf-worthy bad is for you to decide.
Still, our general overview of the film is that it’s a Mystery drama worth your time.
“Sheila” tells a story of a young woman with a troubled past who cares more about herself than anyone else. Her sudden death makes her desperate to live even if it’s for the six months her lung cancer would permit her to. However, she has to earn the six months by doing things the gatekeeper tells her to.
She also goes on a wild goose chase looking for an old school mate to bury the hatched with. Then she has to live the life of a local old woman to cater to the woman’s grandchildren. There’s a lot she didn’t realise she would have to do just to live but she still does it. However, the final task asked of her becomes too much and she’s faced with a choice to make? Will she choose to live or die? Find out in this film, “Sheila”.