Oko Ashewo

Taxi Driver

Daniel Emeke OriahiNigeria104 minutes201514AColourYoruba English Pidgin English

A small-town mechanic turned chauffeur for the mob gets caught up in the troubles of a beautiful sex worker, in this Scorsese-meets-Nollywood crime comedy that transforms the fast-paced and vibrant city of Lagos into an expressionistic film noir metropolis.

When small-town mechanic Adigun (Femi Jacobs) moves to bustling Lagos to inherit his estranged father's taxi, he has no idea what to expect. What he gets is a beat-up car (optimistically named "Tom Kruiz"), crushing debt, and a job as a chauffeur for the mob. With the help of his new mentor Taiwo (veteran Nollywood star Odunlade Adekola), Adigun learns the taxi industry's tricks of the trade as he navigates the back streets and complex hierarchies of the city's criminal underworld. Dependent on the patronage of the shadiest of characters in order to earn his living, Adigun gets advice from a mob kingpin nicknamed "The Chairman": he should keep his head down and his eyes open. But this delicate balancing act collapses into chaos when Adigun gets caught up in the nightly troubles of Delia (Ijeoma Grace Agu), a sex worker who treats his dented cab as her personal limo.

Director Daniel Emeke Oriahi broke Nigerian box-office records with this Scorsese-meets-Nollywood crime comedy that transforms the already fast-paced and vibrant city of Lagos into an expressionistic film-noir metropolis. Shot mostly at night, Oko Ashewo prowls the city's riskiest streets, depicting Lagos as a sexy film city to rival New York or Paris. But even as Oriahi nods to his film-noir favourites, he offers a uniquely Nigerian spin. Instead of lionizing brooding cynics, this surprisingly funny film champions the optimists of the night.

CAMERON BAILEY

Black + African DiasporaSub-Saharan AfricaCrimeMystery + ThrillerUrban Life