Judy Kibinge’s Something Necessary opens in Kenyan cinemas on the 24th of January. The post election violence which engulfed Kenya in 2007-2008 was a nationally debilitating event. Thousands of lives were destroyed and thousands others lost in what was Kenya’s darkest time since the colonial era.
The movie isolates one such life in Anne (Susan Wanjiru) whose home is raided by a mob of homicidal youth during the height of the violence. Her husband is killed, her son is critically injured and she is raped and left for dead.
The movie chronicles her recovery from victim to self-sustenance as she attempts to rebuild amidst the threat of losing it all again. Her brother-in-law has “plans” for her late husband’s farm, her sister is a self-righteous nag, who means well, but is hell bent to have things her own way and Anne’s friends seem more determined to get her to leave her home rather than rebuild it.
The movie is a creation of a Kenyan mind, shot by a Kenyan director and starring an all Kenyan cast telling a Kenyan story. Production assistance was accorded by One Fine Day Films (Soul Boy and Nairobi Half Life) and Ginger Ink. It is set in the farmlands of Nakuru where Anne and her late husband Steve own a farm. But it is not all about Anne.
The movie weaves in multiple angles of the chronicle including Joseph (Walter Kipchumba Lagat) and his guilty struggle to escape the thoughts which haunt him. Joseph was present and a member of the gang when Anne’s home was attacked. He was there. He participated.
But now he cannot erase what he helped to do to another human being and it is destroying him. He dreams of leaving the area to go to Nairobi but the gang has other plans for him.
The acting quality and set design was phenomenal. The simplicity is honest and heartfelt. Much like Nairobi Half Life and Soul Boy, there is no over the top drama in this movie. Rather a continuous subtly which makes the characters very appealing and easy to empathize with.
There are several moments in which emotion cannot be contained including a very cringe-worthy abortion scene which is guaranteed to haunt audiences for days.
In terms of quality, I believe it is safe to say that Kenyan filmmaking is never going back to the dark days of elongated episodes of Mother in Law. But as for a plotline, there is something lacking in Something Necessary. Ignoring the fact that is a continued obsession with depressing Kenyan stories, the movie has no real resolutions to any of the film conflicts. One is left with a certain feeling like, “Is that it!?”
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