As a disclaimer, Oloture is not for the faint-hearted — through the murky prostitute bars, you can almost smell the alcohol, smoke and sweat from the seedy, violent men. This is a film that does not work in half-measures — it gets to the depths of a world of exploited women and violence. While it’s fictional, the message is transparent — sex trafficking is a horrific mark on humanity; modern slavery is a real thing.
The story follows a character named Oloture in Lagos, Nigeria who bravely joins a prostitute ring doing research as an undercover journalist. The film shows the risks that she faces; the longer she takes on this double life, the more the danger increases. Her whole purpose is to expose human trafficking. It’s a drama that lives in the moment; some moments are horrific, while others offer a tinge of hope.
The director wanted to give realism on the subject; while the lead character’s motive is to get an inside scoop, the reality of the situation is that human trafficking channels are heavily systematic — deeply rooted by those in power, shackling those who oppose into fearful silence. That realism is designed to shock viewers — the director Kenneth Gyang gives a brutal account of the violence and the utmost disregard for women and human life. Oloture is not to be watched while passing by. Rather it needs a window of patience to truly take in the character experiences along with the journalist’s peers.
Netflix’s Oloture is shot in an ultra-personal way that gives an uncomfortably authentic experience. Some of the direction and shots are questionable, and at times, you have to wonder if they struggled with the budget — some violent scenes feel jaded or out of place which dampens the experience somewhat; the violence that is implied is ironically more effective than the moments where they tried to get away with sound effects and poor choreography.
But those criticisms do not get in the way of the root of matter — Oloture is a gripping story regarding human trafficking that tries to stay true to the realism of the characters’ situations.