‘Tales of the Accidental City’ Film Review: Effortlessly Entertaining
Tales of the Accidental City is a play about four residents of Nairobi who find themselves stuck together in a three-day anger management class after being accused by the courts of various misdemeanors. Diana (Martina Ayoro), Jacinda (Mercy M. Mutisya), Louis Njoroge (Eddy Kimani), and Sarah Obama (Tana Kioko) must explain what got them there, and with the help of their quirky counsellor Rose (Wakio Mzenge), find a way to heal the wounds inflicted on them by life in the crazy city of Nairobi.
The film is an adaptation of four short stories from the Humans of Nairobi collection including Black Paint by Sitawa Namwalie, Banana Jam by Kevin Mwachiro, Finding Home by Margaret Muthee and God is My Witness by Maïmouna Jallow.
Originally written for the stage and as an audio drama by playwright Maïmouna Jallow, the film failed to be staged in front of live audiences due to the coronavirus pandemic. “Circumstance led [the film] to the decision,” says Maïmouna on its adaptation into a screen-play. She then thought, “What would an anger management class look like in 2020? It would be on Zoom!”
Jacinda is a feisty domestic worker and entrepreneur, who re-counts how her husband’s philandering ways land her in Counsellor Rose’s anger management class. New to Nairobi, the city forces Diana to face her biggest fears. Meanwhile, Jacinda pushes Louis, the former spokesman for the Nairobi City Council, to take a good look at his privilege.
As tensions between Jacinda and Louis threaten to spill into a full-blown fight, Sarah Obama, the youngest member in the class, shares her sobering perspective.
The drama at the film’s center is certainly intriguing, delivering a power-packed sting of truth affecting the characters’ personal lives. But the pace of the film and performances of the ace ensemble cast are what deliver the narrative in a convincing and engaging way.
The quote, “Anger solves nothing, neither does it help nor serve anyone,” is emphasized for the better part of the film, addressing issues of mental health and the need to open up and speak to someone.
Fifty-five minutes slip by with an easy naturalism that would be hard to match on stage in this film.
Tales of the Accidental City is expected for a theatrical premiere sometime soon.
The dialogue between the five drives the plot of the film.
References to Maria, a popular Kenyan TV series.
Nuances of sexism and harassment as narrated by Jacinda.
The film ended abruptly, with no defined resolution to the characters’ anger management issues.
Counsellor Rose’s unexpected outburst.