Tuesday, September 27, 2016
They say real super heroes do not wear costumes. Rather, they are the everyday people that do astonishing things despite great odds against them.
Going to the cinema that day I had mixed feelings; I really wanted to know what happened behind the scenes during the Ebola outbreak in 2014, but again I didn’t want to relive the fear I had as an ill equipped doctor during that period.
I finally decided to buy the ticket and waited for the movie to start. The emptiness of the cinema at that time made me wonder if it was the right choice as we were only 10 people ( among which were 2 kids ) at the start of the movie.
This changed as the movie progressed but I was too wrapped up in the unfolding scenes.
93 days is a story about everyday people who became Super heroes, not because they wanted to but because they had to. There was no other choice.
The story opens with an aerial view of the Lagos Lagoon and quickly moves to the marina with the narrator saying “this is my city Lagos…over 21million people call it home…how connected we are…how very fragile we are.” This poignant narrative sets the pace for what is to come - the relatively peaceful and bustling ambience of the city is about to be shook by an event so minute in its onset but so cataclysmic and wide reaching in its outcome.
The scene moves to the Murtala Mohammed International Airport where an important dignitary on a wheelchair is being ushered to a waiting SUV. We see him sweating and coughing sporadically while being comforted by a protocol officer.
The dignitary is played by no less an actor than Keppy Ekpenyong; we later come to know him as Patrick Sawyer, a Liberian- American diplomat, the man who would change the lives of millions in the country.
The SUV weaves through the Lagos traffic passing through one of the most congested parts of the city - Oshodi and makes its way to First Consultants Hospital in Obalende which will be the place the shit literally hits the fan, excuse my French.
We are subsequently introduced to the other major actors in the film; Dr Stella Adadevoh played by Bimbo Akintola who we see praying at home with her family, Dr Ada Igonoh being brought to work by her husband, Nurse Justina who was 6 months pregnant and at her first day at work and Dr Ohiaeri the Medical Director played by Danny Glover. The major actors being introduced, it was time to get the action rolling.
Dr Adadevoh gets a call at night from a distressed doctor about a troublesome patient and promises to be there.
We then face a hospital ward round scene in the morning where Dr Adadevoh and her doctors have their first official meeting with Patrick sawyer.
“Are you sure you didn’t come into contact with anyone with Ebola?” Dr Adadevoh asks Sawyer.
“No contact with dead bodies?” Dr Ada Igonoh asks Sawyer.
“Do I look like a grave digger?” Sawyer bellows at them.
Here we have our first inkling of Patrick Sawyer’s character, we do not like what we see.
The story then goes through various twists and turns where we are shocked to see Sawyer angrily yanking out his IV cannula and spraying blood all over the walls of the room and onto the bodies of the doctors, nurses and health workers, Dr Ohiaeri and Adadevoh being placed under pressure by Liberian authorities to let Sawyer go for his meeting at Calabar, the initial unpreparedness of the Lagos State government for the outbreak and the traumatic and horrifying events at the isolation unit at Yaba culminating in the deaths of Dr Adadevoh, Nurse Justina, Jato the protocol officer and Nurse Aide Evelyn among others.
What do I think about the movie? Actors that stood out for me were Bimbo Akintola, her portrayal of Adadevoh was so real and believable I had to remind myself how the real Dr Adadevoh looked by doing a Google search; Keppy Ekpenyong was perfect for the role of Sawyer, he made you pity him, he made you sad, he made you angry all at the same time. I would however have loved him to have a richer use of the Liberian accent. Danny Glover played the role of the Medical Director who carried the heavy weight of the hospital on his shoulders and had to make unpleasant decisions; his acting was flawless.
However, I had problems looking at Danny Glover as a Nigerian; there were certain mannerisms that simply were not there for example that Nigerian swag and language use.
Although I got to understand the original Dr Ohiaeri had an American education, I would say the effort to make Keppy Ekpenyong have a Liberian accent should also have been put into giving Danny Glover at least a tinge of the Nigerian accent. However, I must quickly add that the lack of “Nigerianess” in him did not in any way affect the beauty of his delivery. Which Nigerian could have played that part well? Only RMD comes to mind.
I also struggled to determine who the protagonist of the story was, the main actor as Nigerians would put it. Going into the cinema I felt it would be more of the story of Dr Adadevoh who gave her life to prevent an Ebola pandemic, but I left the cinema feeling Dr Ada Igonoh somehow took her shine.
Emotional highlights in the story were Patrick Sawyer spraying the hospital staff with his blood, the deplorable conditions at the isolation centre at Yaba, the First Consultant staff having to rely on just ORS at the isolation centre and Dr Adadevoh finally succumbing to the disease.
How did the movie make me feel as a medical practitioner? I vividly remember the fear we were all under during that period especially working in one of the public hospitals that could easily have been the first port of call for Patrick Sawyer and knowing how ill equipped we were as regards training, facilities and protective equipment, this was all despite the propaganda that the state was prepared for the outbreak.
Sadly, two years after we are still ill equipped to face an outbreak of such proportions.
What I didn’t like? The end, I felt it was rushed, we had just been taken through a roller coaster of emotions, we would have loved a gradual landing and a period to reflect, it all ended so suddenly.
Overall, it is a must watch movie, very well researched, actors were carefully chosen who bore resemblances to the actual people; acting was top notch.
Verdict: A movie you should watch, though not for the overtly emotional.
Have you seen the movie? Do you agree with me?