MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Strained’ is a simple, but bittersweet story

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Movie Title: Strained

Running Time: 1 hour 42 Minutes

Director: Okechukwu Oku

Cast: Queen Nwokoye, Samuel Nnaibuike, Padita Agu, Tracey George, and Adaeze Onuigbo.

The bond shared between a mother and daughter is truly one-of-a-kind. But what happens when the reverse becomes the case? Can a fractured mother-daughter bond be repaired? These are the questions at the heart of the movie “Strained.”

It’s commonly accepted that most people cherish their mothers, with only a few exceptions. “Strained” explores these exceptions, revealing what can sour a mother-daughter relationship.

Through authentic characters and compelling performances, viewers are drawn into the stark realities faced by survivors of domestic violence, creating an intriguing and eye-opening experience.

The movie unfolds around Ebere, a young nursing mother, as she reluctantly reunites with her estranged mother at her husband’s pleading. The catalyst for this reunion is the arrival of a newborn, marking the traditional “Omugwo” ceremony in Igbo culture, where the mother of the couple offers postpartum care to the new mother.

“Strained” follows the journey of Ebere, a new mother, and her estranged mother, Abigail—the narrative traces back to Ebere’s days as a boarding student at Methodist College Enugu. During visiting days, Ebere eagerly anticipated her mother’s arrival, only to face repeated disappointment when Abigail failed to show up as other mothers did for their children. This early disappointment lays the foundation for their strained relationship, which is further explored as the story unfolds.

Ebere, now married and facing the demands of caring for her newborn, finds herself in a dilemma when her husband travels for a business trip to Calabar. Reluctantly, she reaches out to her estranged mother, Abigail, for help, setting the stage for a highly charged reunion.

However, Ebere’s heart is filled with resentment toward her mother, seeing her more as an adversary than a source of support. This bitterness stems from a traumatic past: her father’s abusive behaviour towards her mother led to Abigail’s departure from the marriage. However, Abigail faced a bitter struggle with Ebere’s father, who refused to let go of control over their daughter, subjecting Ebere to a toxic upbringing.

Unknown to Ebere, her mother’s decision to reconnect was driven by a deep desire to protect and nurture her. But past wounds have clouded Ebere’s perception, leaving her feeling abandoned and betrayed. Can the gap between them be bridged? Will Ebere come to understand her mother’s sacrifices and find it in her heart to forgive and reconcile? Will their bond be reborn?

The film features a talented cast, including Queen Nwokoye, Samuel Nnaibuike, Padita Agu, Tracey George, and Adaeze Onuigbo.

Queen Nwokoye delivers a standout performance as Ebere’s mother, Abigail, bringing depth and authenticity to her character. She skillfully navigates the complexities of a character who suffers from past pain and struggles to heal the wounds in her relationship with her daughter.

Her portrayal captures the essence and central theme of the movie, drawing viewers into her character’s emotional journey. The film benefits greatly from her compelling performance.

Additionally, the casting choice of Queen Nwokoye and Tracey George, who played the role of Ebere, her daughter, bears a striking resemblance and enhances the authenticity of their mother-daughter relationship, contributing to the film’s overall impact.

The beauty of a good movie is its story, and how well the story is told also matters a lot; these things make ‘Strained’ stand out.

From the beginning, the movie hooks the audience with a tone of suspense that keeps them engaged.

As the narrative unfolds, scene by scene, viewers are drawn deeper into the mysteries surrounding the characters. The central question of why Ebere harbours hatred towards her mother becomes a driving force, compelling audiences to await each revelation eagerly.

Amidst the unfolding drama, “Strained” skillfully balances moments of emotion and comic relief, creating a dynamic pace that keeps viewers both invested and entertained.

Each scene is crafted precisely, offering the correct dose of comedy and intrigue.

The film strikes a delicate balance between moments of tension and fun, allowing audiences to engage with the characters on multiple levels.

The clash of wisdom during the ‘Omugwo tradition’ is a rich source of comedic relief, highlighting the tension between traditional child-nurturing practices and modern approaches.

These humorous moments are brought to life through witty dialogues and impeccable and comic timing.

The chemistry among the characters, especially the two mothers, adds charm and relatability to the story, resonating strongly with Nigerian women and viewers alike.

Strained” enchants viewers with its captivating cinematography, skillfully capturing the beauty of the Enugu setting while also delving into the emotional depths experienced by its characters.

Through stunning visuals, the film juxtaposes the serene landscapes of Enugu with the inner troubles and conflicts faced by its protagonists.

Moreover, the city becomes not just a backdrop but a character in its own right, reflecting its inhabitants’ cultural heritage and identity.

From sweeping panoramic shots to intimate close-ups, each frame is meticulously crafted to evoke emotions.

Additionally, the film’s soundtrack further enhances the emotions. The songs reflect both the culture and value of motherhood.

“Strained” portrays the rich Igbo culture, weaving its vibrant elements throughout the narrative to create a truly immersive experience.

From Mama’s traditional attire to the characters seamlessly switching between English and Igbo in their dialogues, the film celebrates cultural pride from start to finish.

The film’s meticulous attention to sound design, music, and lighting significantly contributes to its overall impact; each element is carefully crafted to evoke a sense of authenticity, elevating the storytelling to new heights.

However, the movie is not without its faults; the subplot of domestic violence was not explored well, and the lack of this clarity makes the premise for the entire film very weak and insubstantial.

We did not learn much about Ebere’s father, but what Abigail told us saved the day. In cases like this, viewers can’t judge whether Ebere’s hatred for her mother was justified.

Otherwise, “Strained” delivers a compelling blend of drama, emotion, and cultural exploration, making it a worthy addition to any viewing list.

Whether enjoyed on the big screen or from the comfort of home, it leaves a lasting impression as a thought-provoking and engaging film.


STRAINED – an Okey Oku Film [Official Trailer] (

Strained is currently streaming on Netflix.

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