Should there ever be an excuse for physical abuse on women. Resilient seems to offer us an excuse. Formerly titled Wife Beater, Resilient is the story of Andy (Anthony Monjaro) and Quenneth (Monique Samuel), a seemingly happy couple. They start having problems when Quenneth’s mother (Bukky Wright) starts interfering in their marriage. She is dissatisfied that her daughter will marry a man that does not meet her standard. The problem is that Quenneth is easily influenced by her mother; she is not blessed with the intelligence to know how to strike a balance between her mother and her husband. She starts demanding from her husband things that he cannot provide. Soon she gets verbally abusive and when he cannot take it, he physically abuses her.

The film starts in the police station and Andy is being questioned by a policeman (Bimbo Manuel), he is not afraid to smoke before the suspect or interrogate the suspect patiently. With him, we see a different and unusual image of a policeman.

When we first meet Andy, he is ridiculously pompous and uncouth. He is facing charges for beating his wife and he boldly tells the police, “I beat my wife not enough to kill her”. He even goes as far as saying, “spear the rod and spoil the child”. What we hear from this man are misogynistic words. He sees his wife as a child; she deserves to be corrected with a rod, he knows how much beatings she should receive so that she does not get out of hand. Every word that comes out of his mouth annoys the viewer.  As we go further and as he shares his story, we see a good man that turns into the devil sitting in the interrogation seat.

If we say verbal abuse is as dangerous as physical abuse, then it is important to tackle that.  Resilient tries to balance the two and the damage caused by abuse. It offers us a verbally abusive woman and a physically abusive man, what it tries to do is to explore the issue of abuse from both sides, why I find this problematic is that it gives the male lead bold words that excuse his abuse on his wife. She is unconscious in the hospital but he speaks of it as though it is a lesson he has taught her.

Nigeria is a society of highly intelligent people and also ignorant people, the implication of such projects is that the ignorant people are going to see this film and use it as an excuse to be abusive. Resilient almost excuses abuse while also trying to tackle the issue of abuse. It is not okay for women to call their husbands, “useless, worthless, and incapable” because words pierce, words kill. Men feel pain too, but it is not also okay to inflict pain on a woman physically. The man should have been offered better options such as divorce give him a better woman, let the woman suffer from guilt and regret; or find a way to settle the problems. I find abuse unsettling and that is why I find this unsatisfying.

A film is a work of art aimed at educating and most times to correct the ills in our society. Of course a film can also entertain us, the problem is that sometimes we can enjoy it so much that it becomes our truth. It becomes so enjoyable that we feel tempted to live what we see. By offering us a character that retaliates to verbal abuse by being physically abusive, Resilient offers us a grave problem.

Anthony Monjaro portrays a two-faceted man in this film and that is glorious acting. We first meet a pompous man that is so proud of abusing his wife but as he starts to tell his story, we see a man that used to be innocent.

The film makers’ intentions are pure; I understand that the intention is to tackle abuse from both angles. But we see stereotyped images of women and we should be conscious of the type of art that we consume. It is amazing that we hear a man’s point of view on the issue of abuse but in making such a delicate story it is important to be conscious of the fact that women have been stereotyped for too long, especially in films relating to abuse. Women are portrayed as nags, as overbearing and that is what we see with Andy’s wife, and especially with his dissatisfied mother in-law. She does not like her son in-law and she does not fail to hide it. When her daughter suffers a miscarriage, she blames it on malnutrition. We see a prolonged image of a woman that is nothing but a nag.

There are women that are subservient and they still suffer abuse. There are women who are practically mute and yet they suffer abuse. It is important to start a conversation about both verbal abuse and its effect and then physical abuse and its effect. They are all important conversations we should have but it is important to have this conversation with care so that we don’t pass the wrong message.

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