The story begins in rural Nsukka, Nigeria in 1988 with two young brothers in a childhood bonding exercise which is weirdly based on Igbo cosmology. Ikenna, the older brother says he is his younger brother’s (Amadi) “Chi“.
Mysteriously, the story ends in urban Sao Paulo, Brazil in 2019 with both brothers (older now, of course) decidedly far apart, their cosmic obsession being their only bond. Amadi (OC Ukeje) realizes painfully that he had been living his life largely in the shadows of his older brother. Thus, Ikenna’s 30-year foreboding comes true. Amadi then resolves to live his life on his own terms – away from his older brother and family pressure.
The in-betweens of this aesthetically pleasing movie are replete with evasive and abstruse fixation with philosophical ideas like the world being a hologram, the travails of Nigerians in diaspora, detective-like espionage, delusions of grandeur, a thinly developed love story, and a mix of other things that may either pique your interest or put you to sleep.
The fact that this is a primarily Brazilian movie tells a bit about the research that must have been done to grasp how Igbos perceive the concept of “Chi“, the intricate discrimination and pressure the boy-child endures in the Igbo family setting, and the experiences of Nigerian immigrants overseas. Thus, Shine Your Eyes is a Brazilian movie based on a Nigerian story told from a Nigerian POV. It is hard to fault. Director, Matias Mariani did a neat job.
At times you’d feel that the title of the movie is a wake-up call to viewers who might eventually doze. Nigerians who are not Igbo may not appreciate the Igbo influenced storyline. Still, you’ll enjoy the beauty the movie keeps giving. Beautiful scenery, beautiful story, beautiful acting. This is one of OC Ukeje’s top efforts.