Geshin Salvador’s Ticket to Life portrays the story of a couple whose inability to have a child leads them to the path of surrogacy but they end up getting more than they bargained for.
This storyline is quite reminiscent of Tanwa Savage and begs the question, what’s with Salvador and sterile married couples?
The official synopsis of the film in the press release reads, “After coming to Lagos from the village in search of greener pastures, Nafisat soon realises that the grasses are not as green as they seem when she discovers a haunting secret. She must then make a deal with an archenemy to preserve her only means of survival against another enemy.” It’s surprising how the film somewhat deviates from this synopsis as it centres on Katherine and Joshua (Linda Osifo and Christian Ochiagha), a couple who struggle to bear a child and with Joshua’s mother (Tina Mba) breathing down their necks to come up with a plan and have a child as soon as possible. They decide to use Nafisat (Kubra Emokpaire), a village girl who was brought to Lagos by her boyfriend Leo (Sambasa Nzeribe), as a surrogate, but things quickly go out of hand.
While this film is an attempt to showcase the Nigerian reality as indicated by the film’s executive producer, Olayinka Quadri, the storytelling betrays that idea as there are aspects of the story which don’t seem relatable with the average Nigerian experience.
How does a mother-in-law and a Nigerian one at that get easily deceived by a hoax pregnancy? I mean the average Nigerian mother has the superhuman ability to ‘sniff’ out a pregnancy yet Joshua’s mother touches Katherine’s belly repeatedly but still doesn’t know the difference between real pregnancy and faux pregnancy created from stuffed clothes shrouded in even more clothes.
It’s not everyday you see a naive village girl switch between Pidgin and Queen’s English while speaking but Nafisat makes it look effortless. While that would have been a good thing in some other context, the inability to speak good English is usually a distinguishing mark for the average village person (especially one who just moved to a big city). It would have made more sense and added flavour to the story if Nafisat switched between Pidgin and a local language.
The opening scenes were rather confusing as it seemed to me like Katherine was reminiscing her first time in Lagos and Nafisat was the flashback of her younger self. The slow build-up of the plot didn’t help matters as events come to a head much later in the film.
The acting in Ticket to Life by some of the cast is flat and an impressive showing by Sambasa Nzeribe is not enough to save the day. The chemistry between Linda Osifo and Christian Ochiagha who were supposed to be an affectionate couple seems terribly off. That’s primarily a result of Christian’s stiff demeanour. Kubra Emokpaire’s (Nafisat) attempt at seduction evoked laughter from the cinema hall and what else do you expect from a bland act?
Films are meant to tell stories from which we learn lessons and this is one area where Ticket to Life triumphs. In as much as surrogacy is not a popular alternative for sterile couples, Salvador explains that “The movie was borne of the need to enlighten people on the possibilities and benefits of surrogacy, especially for a religious people like ours, who view surrogacy in a somewhat negative and ungodly vein.”
There’s also the deep lesson about how the consequences of our decisions (however pure) can come back to haunt us. Katherine is the victim of her goodwill, though predicted rightly by her husband when he tells her “Katherine, this decision of yours is going to blow up on you eventually.”
Just like Tanwa Savage, the production design and cinematography of the film are commendable.
That said, even if most of the details of the plot might be easily forgotten, Ticket to Life will be remembered for daring to explore a theme untouched by numerous Nollywood productions.