In spite of the glorious hope of excellence promised by a fascinating trailer, The Herbert Macaulay Affair is a 90-minute laborious journey of frustration. A journey only repeated twice if disappointment is one’s stock in trade.
For a film so socially relevant, The Herbert Macaulay Affair directed by Imoh Umoren tells and delivers a poorly scripted story. Shot obviously at the Nigerian Railway Compound, the movie opens with the return of Herbert Olayinka Macaulay (played by William Benson) from England. He is promptly set to work as a Surveyor, reporting to White superiors. However, their cordial relationship is shortlived as Macaulay becomes a large thorn in their flesh.
One of the primary goals of this movie was probably to reignite the fire of patriotism in the hearts of its audience. However, too many scantily developed conflicts and themes cost this film the mark.
The Herbert Macaulay Affair‘s most unforgivable sin is its sound. From start to finish, the film’s score maintains a “no leave, no transfer” battle with the dialogue and mostly winning its face offs. Although, I’ll admit that the film’s score was enthralling.
In between watching the actors struggle to stay in character and the dizziness induced by the need to find where the screenwriter was going with the unsatisfying narrative, it dawned on me that there was something awfully wrong with the “Looks” department. The Makeup artist clearly forgot that Benson wasn’t the only one stuck in the 1800s with that ridiculously mismatched synthetic moustache. Some of the male cast had varying 21st century styled haircuts including the very famous punk with an M cut!
Frankly, The Herbert Macaulay Affair had better chances at wowing an audience if it had taken advantage of the enclosed space and lights offered by a theater.
Nearly commendable is the detail paid to framing shots in the movie. It’s commendable till you realize the dubious motive behind it all. Seeing as there seemed to be a lack of creativity on the part of the set designer and location manager, keeping the shots as wide and close-up as rationally necessary was the only way to not let the cat out of the bag. The same cat that had made its way to someone’s kitchen 20 minutes into the film.
Ultimately, the movie leaves you hanging with no expectation whatsoever. Benson’s performance is average at best and totally forgettable. The sparse extras further gives credence to the assertion that it was better off as a stage play.
The only deserving commendation Umoren gets for this haphazard job is that it torchlights the life of one of Nigeria’s foremost nationalist. Sadly, it’s the kind Herbert didn’t deserve!