Yvonne Okoro (centre) and Hlomla Dandala are excellent in Contract.
CONTRACT (Shirley Frimpong-Manso). See listings. Rating: NNN
I love the spirit behind the ReelWorld Film Festival, a showcase of indie films and videos by artists hailing from all corners of the globe. In this context, the opening-night offering, Shirley Frimpong-Manso's Contract, is refreshing even if it doesn't completely succeed.
The Ghanaian romantic comedy stars Hlomla Dandala as Peter, a successful, womanizing businessman who wants to become a father - but without what he calls any "mama drama."
Enter the fiery Abena (Yvonne Okoro), a younger, unemployed woman he meets at a restaurant. At first she scornfully mocks his proposition that he pay her to carry his baby. But when she can't find work, she reconsiders.
What follows is an amusing but predictable sequence of events involving artificial insemination, shopping for maternity clothes and, after Abena moves into Peter's home, a temporary cramping of his sex life. Until... well, you know where this is going, right?
There's a bit of lifestyle porn on display as Frimpong-Manso fetishizes Peter's fancy juicer, jogging regime and tastefully sparse bachelor pad. It's a shame she doesn't dig deeper into issues of class.
But despite the padded running time and the plot contrivances (Peter's paternity wish is never explained), the picture works, thanks to the charm and chemistry of its leads. Dandala is slick, confident and believable as a control freak, while Okoro shows great depth and comic timing.
They're nicely supported by Joseph Benjamin as Peter's lawyer friend Kuuku and Doris Ansah as his meddling, nosy mother, whose eyes pop out when she thinks she might be gaining a daughter-in-law.
Screens Wednesday (April 10) at Canada Square.