Richard J. Arens is not too bad of a director. To my knowledge, he has helmed three movies thus far: Alelouya (which I thought was hilarious), and My Name Is (which I thought was monstrous), and of course Show Kola. It seems that following Show Kola Arens has gone to make Haiti Cherie: Wind of Hope. The trailer for that movie, doesn’t exactly look enticing.
Show Kola, his second released film, on the other hand, definitely deserves a look. It’s one of few ensemble cast Haitian movies that I’ve seen where one doesn’t lose sight of the characters, as the movie progresses. The movie’s 87 minutes or so, are divided (perhaps not too equally) between four friends: Kerby, Theo, Bob, and Donkey Mix.
Bob is a university psychology major with mommy issues. His mother abandoned the family some years ago, leaving his father in a catatonic state, and Bob himself in a permanent woman-hating mode. He’s romancing Barbara, his father’s goddaughter half-heartedly, but his eyes are elsewhere, roaming, and seeking some unsuspected females to devour.
Arens assembled some of the Haitian movie industry’s best young talents, and up-and-coming talents. In terms of established talent, Georges-Henri Beauvoir—who we have not seen since he starred as François in La Peur D’Aimer —is Kerby (actually he appeared for like 5 seconds in La Rebelle in the birthday party scene). Kerby is so bent on impressing the neighborhood useless pretty girl Christelle, that he misses the lovey-dovey stares and intentions of the long suffering Ingride.
Paul-Henry Athis—who made an impressive debut in La Face de L’Ombre, and went on to star in Les Couleurs de la Dignité— is Théo, the jealous boyfriend to Lourdes-Milla, played by the brilliant Nathalie Ambroise (of La Rebelle fame). Handy Tibert, who is one of the best young actors in the Haitian film industry (Barikad, La Victime), gave a credible performance as Donkey Mix, a deejay (the movie’s title is actually taken from the character’s radio show) who is in love with his boss Supplice (Marie-Yolène Félisma), but can’t bring himself to face the intimidating career woman.
Newcomers Rachéle Abraham (Christelle), and Francila Saintilus (Ingride), Marjorie François (Barbara) round off the well-put together cast. There were others too who appeared, however briefly, but who still made an impression Fritz-Gérald Emmy (as the perverted rapper Jay-C), Aristène Posnel (as the chain-smoking Djomeka), and Maxime Moise, as the man whose estrangement from his wife has led him to an overall mental and physical decline. The director himself has a cameo in the movie, as a disabled radio personality, and Hughette F. St Fleur and Schudson Boursiquot have some marginal roles, while Reginald Lubin appears as himself. At one point, there was a trailer of the movie with the actress (J)Gessica Geneus playing one of the leads, but she must not have made the final cut, or perhaps dropped out of the movie.
Oh, well. On with the movie.
The couples, or potential couples all somehow manage to quarrel prior to Valentine’s Day. But in true romantic comedy fashion, all is mended in time for love to triumph. It was quite ridiculous for Arens to give Ambroise the same lines that she had in La Rebelle as the rebellious Lorraine Dubois (“Je te signalle que c’est mon anniversaire.”). Did he think that we wouldn’t notice? Is there a shortage in dialogue land?
Overall though, with Show Kola, it’s obvious that Arens was trying to do something different, in terms of story, in terms of experimenting with structure and style, and in those aspects, he certainly succeeded. The plot could have been stronger, but most of the resolutions had meat on them.