AFFAIRS OF THE HEART
After a long absence from the screen, Stella Damasus, one of Nigeria’s most prominent actors, returns in a superlative movie centred on the marriage of convenience, immigration, matrimonial conflicts and friendship.
Vivian (Stella Damasus), a US-based medical practitioner, files papers for her husband, Michael (J0seph Benjamin) to join her from Nigeria. Michael’s cupboard love begins to manifest shortly afterwards, but he is in for a huge shock.
Gladly, Affairs of the Heart entertains the audience with refreshing dialogue as it is imbued with many subtexts. This is seen in the manner in which Michael uses menopause to indicate that Vivian is too old and may be incapable of conception. When Vivian tries to complain on the phone to Michael’s father whom she has never met her husband’s excuse is that “Papa is going deaf”. However, that is not his real reason for not letting the two of them talk. Vivian lambasts Evelyn who encouraged Louisa, their widowed friend, to get a man. She asserts that following Evelyn’s advice Louisa’s eyes are set on Michael. Much praise must go to Dianne Diaz for such a compelling screenplay with fascinating nuances.
Robert Peters, who featured in several films in the late 1990s and early 2000s, calls the shots for Affairs of the Heart just like he did for When One Door Closes and the Atlanta bits in 30 Days in Atlanta. However, Peters’ latest film is his most resonant project so far, and if he continues to direct such thought-provoking pictures, he will certainly become a filmmaker in the diaspora to contend with.
With more performances in movies like Affairs of the Heart, Damasus is set to re-establish herself as one of the most sought after actors in Nollywood, a position she could not sustain after she was dealt a heavy blow by the sudden death of her first husband in 2004. In addition, that year, she was banned from acting by movie marketers alongside nine of her colleagues with Genevieve Nnaji and Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde being the other women on the list.
The Stella (Beverly Naya) subplot is a reminder that what goes around comes around; meaning that people will always inevitably receive the same measure they mete out to others. Unfortunately, Affairs of the Heart suffers from the little publicity that it received from its producers, as well as from a title that sounds rather unintelligent for such a brilliant film.
Affairs of the Heart is however not a flawless film. At the beginning, Vivian says, “I have worked all my life as a doctor”, which is definitely a poor avenue for character revelation, especially when she is later seen giving instructions to the hospital staff. She introduces someone as “…our front desk receptionist”—htautology. Eric blurts, “I didn’t know nurses earn this much here”, really? That statement is inconsistent with the fact that he is a 21st century migrant nurse—kwho could easily research that information online; that is if he is among the negligible few who are unaware that medical personnel are well remunerated in the Western world. Again, the ignorance he exhibits in that scene is inconsistent with the fact that he is a fortune hunter.
After helping Louisa with yard work, an argument about Eric’s whereabouts ensues and the question is: Don’t they (Vivian and Eric) have mobile phones? If they do, the viewer does not see any attempt by the couple to reach each other through their phones.
Overall, Affairs of the Heart is a poignant 100-minute tale that deserves awards for its almost excellent storytelling.