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Revisiting Biyi Bandele’s “Fifty”: A Review 

By Munise Betül KANDIRAZ

Friday, September 5, 2020.

Four stunning journeys. Fifty is an age that some people assume brings wisdom. In that regard, the title of the film yields many clues. Fifty, directed by the multitalented playwright, novelist and film director Biyi Bandele, brings together four affluent and prosperous women. On the one hand, we see concepts of love, desire, abuse, broken relationships, missing families in the light of cultural obligations; on the other, we see four independent successful women who are strong, rich and very competent in their fields. In the process, the film exposes the dark sides of upper middle class life in Lagos, Nigeria, and confronts us with the harsh truths of being a woman in the 21st Century. 

The four leading  characters,Tola, Marie, Kate and Elisabeth (Lizzy) are socially connected. These  women are also in a very tense relationship. The movie starts with the planning for Tola's 50th birthday party, and it continues to portray her as a troubled, sassy and unpredictable woman until the last part of the film. Before the actual climax, we gain some insights into her relationship with her husband Kunye, and her "brother" Jamal.  In the last quarter of the film, Tola's mask breaks, and exposes a horrible reality, but we still see a very confident Tola, even when she's in a vulnerable moment. 

Although both of them are victims of their own lasciviousness, Elizabeth and Marie have a beautiful relationship and they try to help each other out. Kate, on the other hand, seems to have a different lifet from the rest of the female characters; she is deeply influenced by religion, spending her whole day in the church, and losing her closeness to her husband. 

Overall, Bandele beautifully portrays many different binaries of Lagos. Lagos, as Nigeria's largest and most important city, has a shiny but also cruel side to it. The award-winning director shows us how the film "Fifty" is both a story of shimmering lives but also of unsettled relationships fraught with lies, betrayals and abuse.

Munise Betül Kandiraz is a graduate student at the University of Bremen, Germany. Her research interests include postcolonial and refugee literature. 

Revisiting Biyi Bandele’s “Fifty”: A Review

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