All romance movies are clichéd. There will be a happy ending no matter how many potholes appear on the journey of love. How good the movie is lies in the ability of the director to make the journey as interesting as possible.
In When Love Comes Around a young woman learns early that while ‘love cannot buy money, money can buy love’ and so she sets her heart on getting her Mr Right: someone with loads of cash. If he has royal blood as well, better. Meanwhile, a girl’s got to eat and eat she does. Or as Nigerians say, ‘she dey chop clean mouth.’
Set in present day Accra and released in 2014, the movie’s title is similar to Seyi Babatope’s When Love Happens, also released in 2014. That’s where the similarities end. Where the lead in When Love Happens is a ‘good’ girl in search of true love, When Love Comes Around focuses on ‘bad’ girl, Love (played by Ghanaian actress Zynnell Lydia Zuh, who also produced the film) and she isn’t at all interested in love. It’s merely her name. Her interest lies in getting as much as she can from men to fund her lifestyle.
The mostly Ghanaian cast does a fair job but it is Nigerian Eku Edewor who is the star of the show. She plays Victoria, Love’s friend, easily influenced and drawn into an elaborate plot with consequences for her marriage.
Whether she is ‘bending neck’ for her husband, covering up for her best friend or apologising to God for blowing her nose in the middle of a prayer, Eku Edewor is a pro, expressing a range of emotions with the tiniest of gestures.
Edewor’s economy is contrasted against Mimi (Kenyan DJ Pierra Makena). Mimi is friends with Victoria and Love and joins in most of their shenanigans but she is a third wheel, an afterthought tacked onto the friendship to create a twist the film can do without. Makena comes off awkward in the role and may have done better with a smaller role.
Jim Iyke as Kamal takes a break from his Nollywood bad boy stereotype and plays the chef who makes Love rethink her life’s choices. Kamal is overshadowed by the competition: the larger-than-life Douglas ‘Dada Boat’ (Mikki Osei Berko) a comical ‘money miss road’. The other male characters Love has affairs with lack depth; their lines consist mostly of, ‘Baby what’s happening,’ and ‘Baby, who is this?’
When Love Comes Around tries to avoid the pitfalls of the romantic comedy and in doing so meanders through several plot twists, when a well-executed one would have sufficed. The movie’s comedy is left almost entirely in the hands of Berko who delivers hilarious one-liners in Twi (subtitled in English).
Despite its shortcomings, When Love Comes Around does deliver several ‘awww’ moments and for the romcom lover, it is worth every 118 minutes.