Year Released: 2017
Distributor: WOURI TV English
Running Time: 17 minutes
Rating/Recommended Audience: 13+
Related Films/Series: N/A
For Fans Of: August the First, Precious, The Family that Preys
-This film is streaming on YouTube.
-Major spoilers are mentioned with the main ending plot twist. Read at your own discretion.
-Cameroon is a country in West Central Africa. The capital is Yaounde while the largest city is Douala.
Another African country is getting the Iridium Eye treatment. This time, we’re going all the way to Cameroon for this one. I’ve been finding out about that country recently and I’ve even met people from there in the past. That and I’ve been listening to some Cameroonian pop which has been really fun. One artist I’ve been checking out recently is Mr. Leo who sings a bunch of songs I like (Pray is currently my favorite).
Enough about those things. We’ll see what the nicknamed “Africa in miniature” offers with this short film.
Desperate Friends is about the lives of three women. They start by talking and hanging out per usual. One of the friends Betty comes in with a ton of luxury accessories and shoes which greatly impresses the other friends Anne and Kendra. As Betty flaunts her gifts, she mentions that her boyfriend Ken bought all of those things for her. This causes a ton of jealousy with Anne and Kendra as they wished they had boyfriends who give them nice things, so they take matters into their own hands to meet up with Ken. Soon their lives will be forever changed as secrets and ambitions become quite traumatic for everyone involved.
Okay, despite the obvious girl talk in the beginning, there was certainly a good concept going on. The fact that there were some luxury items on full display certainly caught my eye. You know I’m a sucker for movies that destroy any poverty porn implications, so that was something I gave a thumbs up to at first. The houses certainly could’ve been in a middle-class environment in America with just a few tweaks and I wouldn’t have noticed besides the accents of the characters. The plot certainly had me wondering what would happen, so I did have some intrigue going on in seeing how everything would play out in this short film.
Then, came the realization as to how all the parts added up to the whole. [Double facepalms]
Desperate Friends felt like a Lifetime movie in hindsight which just gave me cinematic hives after dealing with this film. The acting was quite amateur in it’s attempt to convey feelings. There were scenes where it worked, but it was mostly overacting or underacting depending on the scene. The girls were total gold diggers the whole time which made them more unlikable. They try to seduce Ken and try to get what they want. Once I saw one of the women puking because of an unplanned pregnancy, I told myself “Oh no…please don’t go there.” and they went there and then some with the twist ending. It certainly was a surprise ending, but it was a horrible surprise as HIV was a major part of the plot twist. I wanted to throw something at a wall once it was revealed at the end. What hurts even more is that the individual knew they had it for the past two years and didn’t bother to tell anyone. Seriously? That’s attempted murder you know. I don’t care that this was made by African creators, this only adds to the “black people are dysfunctional” portfolio that even Tyler Perry wouldn’t dare go that far or for most mainstream directors would say “okay, we can’t be THAT racist” when they bash people of that pigmentation. I just shook my head and the ending credits made the message all too overt which came off as condescending.
This was a poorly executed entry into African cinema which is a shame. I’m not going to swear off Cameroonian cinema, but I hope I can find better movies from that particular country. The production was mediocre, the acting was immature, and the unfortunate implications used under the guise of a cautionary tale did far more bad than good. Say what you will about movies such as Lunch Time Heroes, Mano, or even Ota-Ihenkole, but they had redeemable elements and had elements that worked for those films. Desperate Friends was a desperate attempt to make a tragic movie which didn’t work for me. It’s a shame because it had potential, but it was squandered.
Adjustable Point System:
Add 1-3 points if your movie tastes involve Lifetime flicks.
-Destroys poverty porn implications
-It’s a short watch
-Decent amount of screen time for each character
-Poor visual production
-Horrific implications and way too preachy
Final Score: 1/10 point
Content Warning: Desperate Friends is best for teens and older. There are some very adult themes such as pregnancies out of wedlock, infidelity, and HIV in this film. The ending is extremely tragic with many of these situations that happened.
All photos property of their respective owners and used under US “Fair Use” laws. Desperate Friends is property of Tabe Conrad, Tabe Anna, and WOURI TV English. The screenshot is from YouTube and is property of WOURI TV English.