MOVIE REVIEW: Tiwa Savage’s Water & Garri movie lacks sweetness

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Movie Title: Water and Garri

Date of Release: 10 May 2024

Director: Meiji Alabi

Cast: Tiwa Savage, Mike Afolarin, Andrew Bunting, and Jemima Osunde

The movie “Water & Garri,” inspired by Tiwa Savage’s 2021 EP of the same name, falls short of delivering the ‘sweetness’ audiences anticipated.

While the EP itself and the subsequent album were a musical masterpiece, the same cannot be said about the movie, as it fails to capture the essence that made it special.

At the core of any successful film lies its story, and unfortunately, this is where “Water and Garri” falters.

Despite the promising premise, the movie struggles to translate the EP’s brilliance onto the screen. It lacks the narrative depth and emotional resonance needed to captivate viewers truly.

As a result, what could have been a compelling screen experience ultimately feels lacking in substance.

While Tiwa’s musical prowess is unquestionable, her venture into filmmaking with “Water & Garri” leaves much to be desired, leaving audiences craving the sweetness promised but never entirely delivered.

Water & Garri narrates the story of Ashia, a young girl on a path to finding her destiny in life. The movie opens with a scene where a young man is being chased around in the night in a slummy area, and after running in through the nooks and crannies of the streets, he ends up being shot. The narrator, Ashia, tells us not to pity him because he has met his karma for killing her brother.

Ashia had a successful career as a fashion designer in Los Angeles, but she received a sceptical call from her cousin, Stephannie, who broke the news that she lost her brother Niyi.

Three months later, Ashia had to return to the Eastside, where she was raised by her grandmother, Yemi, alongside her brother, Ayomide. Returning to Eastside wasn’t easy for Ashia, as almost everything seems to have changed since she departed ten years ago.

Upon returning to Eastside with all her childhood memories: the loss of her grandmother, the childhood of growing up with her brother Mide, and her love journey with Kay as a teenage girl.

She reunites with Kay, her teenage lover, who is now the head of the gang terrorising the entire Eastside. Their love sparkles again, and he shows her the whole city, riding her downtown on his bike.

Unfortunately, their supposed reunion flickers as Kay encounters and challenges a young man whom he perceives to be an opposition or a threat. The night did not end well for the lovebird. But as she grapples with her love affair with Kay, would her return to Eastside make any difference in her life?

“Water & Garri” features Tiwa in the lead role as Aisha, a thriving fashion designer, supported by actors such as Mike Afolarin from “Far From Home,” Andrew Bunting of “Dynamite” fame, and Jemima Osunde, known for her role in “New Money.”

Directed by Meji Alabi, the film boasts a soundtrack enriched by the musical talents of Ayra Starr, Black Sherif, Olamide, and Young Jonn.

Tiwa’s talent is undeniable, and her voice captivates hearts worldwide. However, her foray into acting in “Water & Garri” left much to be desired. While her inherent charm is evident in music, it didn’t quite hit the mark in acting. Despite her lovable charm, her portrayal of Aisha lacked the depth and finesse the character demanded.

On the other hand, Andrew Bunty’s performance didn’t favour the film. He stumbled over his lines and couldn’t quite muster the charisma needed for his character, Kay, leaving his acting flat.

Bunty’s performance felt stagnant, failing to inject the necessary energy and charisma into his role. Consequently, the overall impact of his acting left viewers wanting, unable to engage with the character’s journey fully.
Movie Analysis

Tiwa embarked on producing the movie to unveil the inspiration behind her album title, “Water & Garri.” However, after 80 minutes of vivid visuals, lacklustre storytelling, a predictable soundtrack, and flat acting, I scratched my head, unable to grasp the movie’s essence.

The very first scene of Kay running from an unseen chaser, but later being shot, had some intrigues that could keep the audience longing for more, but five minutes into the movie or less, the audience loses appetite in the movie because the film lacks the necessary element to keep anyone spell bent.

While Water & Garri may be a generic phrase in Nigeria, the movie’s concept, theme, and values seem far-fetched.

Although there are no laid down rules to filmmaking, there are sins to filmmaking, and the cardinal sin is for a film to be boring; in this movie, Garri and Water, as generic as it may be, loses its taste.

The movie suffered several unforgivable sins; for instance, there is no connection between the first scene and the last scene, despite both scenes narrating the same thing.

In the first scene, we get the idea that Kay was chased and after so much hide and seek, he was later shot. But in the last scene, he had just ridden down from his bike when he was unprecedentedly shot.

Despite the intentions behind the consistent flashbacks to enhance narrative clarity, they inadvertently disrupted the movie’s flow, causing a discordance in its sequence. Rather than offering answers, they left viewers with more questions, ultimately muddling the storytelling experience.

The premises for Aisha’s return to Eastsicentredered around her cousin Stephanie’s loss of her brother Niyi lacked substantial depth. Additionally, the narrative discrepancy regarding Kay’s role in Niyi’s death, coupled with Aisha’s initial conviction that Kay deserved punishment, only to reveal her ignorance about Kay’s involvement later, created a sense of confusion.

Furthermore, the rationale behind Kay’s demise felt disjointed and inconsistent with the plot.

The director can also not be spared for his lack of directorial vision in the movie. Although Mr Alabi, the movie director, has worked more on music video directing, his efforts in Water & Garri’ could more or less be described as amateur and without needed depth.

However, if one thing truly shines in this film, it would be the cinematography.

The movie, set against the backdrop of Ghana’s Cape Coast, was a visual treat. With its cinematic flair, it captured the essence of the location impeccably.

Despite much of the action in the slums, the imagery was vibrant, boasting a rich palette that beautifully showcased the communities portrayed in the movie.

One could aptly interpret the movie “Water & Garri” in Nigerian colloquial terms as ‘Water don pass Garri’, signifying the disappointing outcome when a weak script collides with mediocre acting.



Water and Garri – Official Trailer | Prime Video Naija (

Water & Garri is currently streaming on Amazon Prime Video

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