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Bitter 17

average rating is 3 out of 5


Jason Knight


Posted on:

Mar 26, 2024

Film Reviews
Bitter 17
Directed by:
Vosa Tosin
Written by:
Victoria Olufade
Uche Chika Elumelu, Patrick Popolampo, Sylvester Ekanem, Blessing Oreva Uzero

A Nigerian youth gets involved with criminals, putting himself and his mother in jeopardy.


Following the murder of his father in Nigeria, seventeen-year-old Ezra (Popolampo in his debut feature role) moves with his mother (Elumelu) from Enugu to Lagos for a fresh start. There, Ezra meets and befriends fellow students Subomi (Ekanem) and Princess (Uzero), while his mother starts building a rapport with Daniel (Bassey Ekpo-Bassey), a friendly guy who helps her set up her new business. Unfortunately, Ezra's new friends are involved in crime and as time goes on he will be badly affected by his new surroundings and distance himself from his worried mother.


A dramatic feature about an unstable mother-and-son relationship and the consequences of becoming acquainted with bad people. The core of the story is the situation between Ezra and his mother, which has been severely damaged by the passing of his father. His mum is trying hard to keep things together, however her son constantly ignores her or argues with her. They both find joys outside their relationship as she meets a Daniel and Ezra spends time with his new friends and gets romantically involved with Princess. Eventually, their new ventures end up creating even more waves between them as Ezra is annoyed that his mother is seeing another man and crime reaches their household.


Ezra is a naive teenage boy who is feeling lost and angry following the death of his father and is looking for new things, somewhere to belong. He obviously means well and the viewer will most likely understand his struggles, however the way he treats his mother makes it hard for him to be a likeable character. Although for the most part Popolampo delivers a decent performance, at times it seems that he is either trying too hard or not trying hard enough, particularly during scenes where he expresses his anger.


In comparison to Ezra, his mother is the one who earns the most sympathy, a kind and caring single mother who is attempting to move on after the loss of her husband while she simultaneously has to deal with her son's challenging behaviour. Pepper (Preach Bassey) would be another character that stands out, a vicious crime boss whose presence spreads fear.


The feature has plenty of dramatic scenes and they are supported by the melancholic music by Shaddy, often containing piano melodies.


There are brief sequences throughout where diegetic sounds are removed, leaving characters speaking without a voice, while the dramatic score takes over. This technique makes the scenes appear awkward and one might wonder what effect the filmmakers were hoping to achieve.


The duration is a minus. At almost two hours long, the film feels overlong and this is most likely attributed to quite a few scenes that probably could had been shorter.


This is a moving story about the struggles of a mother and her son. It is a film that explores family values, loss, making bad decisions and also touches on coming-of-age themes, romance and gang violence. Moreover, it addresses the consequences that crime has on people and their loved ones. The lengthy duration is an issue, however the intriguing plot and strong messages are enough to make this a respectable feature.

About the Film Critic
Jason Knight
Jason Knight
Indie Feature Film, World Cinema
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