By Monica Obaga, Buni.tv
Ni Sisi is a film about a typical Kenyan community: multiethnic and in everyone else’s business. A scheming couple sees this as an opportunity to gain power through fear.
The film opens on an iconic statue, three people, knees bent, hands clung desperately together. The camera pans across scenic landscapes through a bustling town and right to a street theater audience breaking into a patriotic ballad. A young woman is swarmed by family who try a little too much (or not at all) to make her feel welcome home.
Quick and witty, with a host of colorful characters in an ordinary town, the first act is absolutely glorious. I became instantly besotted with the three smothering aunts, the sly but good-natured Jamal (Nairobi Half Life’s charming Joseph Wairimu), and even enjoyed loving to hate the cheeky gang. Ni Sisi’s impeccable art direction creates boundless optimism with pastel blues and yellows, bright reds and greens and prints in every frame. Every shade of brown skin is lit well and loved by the camera, certainly noteworthy in global film and television. I applaud the director and editor for the play within the film as a device, and the seamless transitions between stage and scene. I have performed on that very stage, so its being the essence of the film is a draw, and also a sign that any African would be familiar with and enjoy.
The second act begins after a happy climax, and then we get to know what the
delightfully wicked shopkeeper and his wife are capable of in their quest for power. The town’s descent into chaos is portrayed in beautifully edited, domino sequences, with desaturated, low contrast scenes and poetic close-ups and sound design.
In the third act, the young people finally ‘take back’ their hometown. The film turns into a public service announcement. Fear not! The film quickly bounces back into the
swashbuckling flick we know and love in an exciting lap to the finish.
Great baddies, unpredictable leads, a hilarious supporting cast, a beautiful aesthetic and wonderful storytelling puts Ni Sisi firmly on my must watch and re watch list.
Watch Ni SiSi on Buni+