Strength of a Woman : Movie Review

Title :        Strength of  womanSWP

Writer:      Manasseh Chege

Diresctor: Gilbert Lukalia

Starring:    Rose Njoroge, Ashford Kirimi, Leila Laura Wangari

The expectations I place in a movie I’m about to watch is usually so great, almost to a fault. The feeling of being lured into someone else’s shoes and consequently shouldering their burdens, embracing their fears and rejoicing in their triumphs is addictive to me. So I watch countless movies looking for a high. Many times I’m disappointed and most times I feel good. Then, once in a blue moon I come across a ‘keeper’. This is a movie I would like to take home, to add to my collection of movies I can watch again or talk about for a long time to come. This movie is a ‘keeper’.

Behind the scenes of Strength of a Woman. Picture courtesy of producers.
Behind the scenes of Strength of a Woman. Picture courtesy of producers.
        Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is a perfect picture, but the artistic integrity it has achieved cannot go unnoticed or without commendation. Strength of a Woman is a film about Julia (Rose Njoroge) a teenage girl, and her struggles to make a better life for her self by finishing school in the face of poverty and a jackass of a father, Fundi (Ashford Kirimi) who frustrates her at every turn. This award-winning film (5 Kalashas including Best Script and Best Picture) takes the audience on an emotional journey alongside Julia and her mother through the ultimate betrayal by fundi.
Gilbert Lukalia, better known in Kenya as an actor, has clearly pushed the boundaries by this film. I have yet to watch a Kenyan film where the camera was allowed to speak so loudly and clearly like this one. The pace, the camera movements, and cinematography were well thought out and a strong philosophical footprint and backing is evident.
The film adopts a mostly European style; a slow pace and lingering shots that creates a more intimate connection between the film and the audience.

Rose Njoroge during the shoot
Rose Njoroge during the shoot

My favourite shot happens in the outside kitchen scene when Julia’s mother is giving her suffering daughter money for school fees through the window mesh. Julia is in the dark, smoky kitchen and the spaces between the timber wall lets in rays of sunlight slashing through the darkness and the smoke to settle on Julia from above. Gave me a feeling that there is a deity somewhere looking out for Julia, that every thing is going to be okay. The production team also went to a great deal of trouble to get original music scores for the film and it definitely paid off, so on point in all the scenes.

       Like I mentioned, this film wasn’t without it’s faults. Inconsistent lighting being one of them, especially in the scenes that employed a lamp as a practical light. Issues may also be raised on how it went about showing the strength of women.  I’m tired of seeing women shown as strong only when the men around them fail. The strength of Julia and her mother is based entirely on Fundi’s cruelty. Ashford Kirimi executes his role so well I dare say this movie be given a title along the lines of ‘The stupid man’.
It is a movie that will definitely give you value for your time and money and it will be screening at the Prestige Plaza, Ngong Road starting the 5th.

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