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Of Pillows and Intimate Talks

Muhugu Theuri, playing Aster in Pillow Talk, and the film’s poster

In the arts scene, this year’s Valentine weekend will best be remembered by the gliteratti of Kenyan cinema assembling at Anga Imax in the Nairobi CBD to witness the premiere of Pillow Talk, a film directed by award winning producer (pun intended!) Alice Wangui who was making her directorial debut, and produced by Old Gold Films. The film was written by Charles Chanchori, he of the ‘Around Nairobi in one Night’ fame, and introduces two talented actors who deliver the story on screen, Muhugu Theuri as Aster and Emmanuel Mugo as Osoro. This is a welcome deviation as new talent is finding its way onto Kenyan cinemas, after years of audiences berating film directors and producers for using the same old faces for different films and television shows.

Emmanuel Mugo, playing Osoro in Pillow Talk

As you may have guessed from the title, the film follows a man and a woman who wake up naked next to each other trying to figure out how they ended up together in bed. In this era of KFCB’s prefect role in the film industry, the film takes a bold step in its visual elements by featuring a lot of skin by the two, with risqué undercurrents and sexual innuendos in their dialogue and actions. It then delves into the more salient issues like complicated parental and intimate relationships, religiosity, betrayal and societal obligations.

Pillow Talk trailer

Osoro is a photographer who has an overwhelming sense of duty; consistently sending his ailing mom money for medication, but can’t go home because he feels he has disappointed his family because of his life choices. Aster is a seemingly lost girl seeking validation, and needs to be loved after falling out of favor with her mom due to religious differences. She is also disoriented after her ex-boyfriend shared her nudes on social media. The film follows these two wandering souls who are brought together by their one-night stand. It’s ironic that while Aster is running away from her nudes episode, she ends up in a photographer’s bed! And Osoro insists that for her to get over this phase of her life, she has to accept his offer of taking her nudes! The situation is best captured by a quick flashback to Casablanca (1942) and that famous quote ‘Of all the Gin Joints in the World, she walks into mine.’

Behind the Scenes

From a technical angle, the team did a great job, much as it’s a one-set film. The actors’ chemistry is clear for all to see, and is a key element in keeping viewers glued to the screen. The sultry Aster is especially efficient in bringing out the introspective Osoro from his cocoon of uncertainty. The creative camera angles and shots helped heighten some of the emotions, and one wonders whether the film would have delved into the murky, mysterious but oh-so-sinfully-delish Hollywood approach to intimate scenes, were it not for good ole Uncle Zeke. Alice, who previously produced the award winning Angles of My Face, is also an accomplished critic, and did a good job polishing her own work because there’s little to write about the shortcomings of the film, which is also evidence of a thorough pre-production process, with a well thought out design contributing to the visual appeal of the film. However, one does wonder, is there anyone who has had such an in-depth discussion and shared life insights after a one-night stand with a stranger? If you are in the one-night stand business, this writer is curious to know whether this is a normal occurrence.

Alice Wangui, Pillow Talk director and producer

The Kenyan social scene (or should we say Nairobi?) is very well captured in this one hour fifteen minute flick as it explores various socio-cultural issues. Millennials have questioned the role of religion as it is increasingly viewed as a money-minting and brainwashing exercise after all the exposes on social media, while the reckless sexual behavior amongst the youth with one-night stands being the norm rather than the exception. Young people also seem to suffer from disillusionment following strained relations with their parents who invest a lot in their education and expect much more not putting in mind the current economic situation and new career options available for the youth.

Pillow Talk cast and crew (and fan!) during the premiere

Pillow Talk is a poignant reflection of today’s society, and is a well-crafted piece of art that should resonate with today’s youth and their parents as they navigate the uncertain waters of young adulthood. From a film maker’s perspective, the film once again asserts that Kenyan film makers have mastered the technical elements of film production, and its now time they mastered the storytelling bit as we continue to diversify our stories and bring audiences back to the big screen. Oh, and they also have a page on the IMDB database! How about that?

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1,968 replies on “Of Pillows and Intimate Talks”

It was well received, actually. And yes, today’s generation needs sex-ed as early as possible!

The idea of opening up to someone you met for the (I assume) sole purpose of having sex with for one night is quite interesting. The film is a conversation starter alright. I hope it gets the attention and support it deserves

Thanks for this piece. Well written and very captivating. Now I am looking for the film to watch. How does one get it?

It was on cinemas in February, but Covid probably put the screenings on hold. Please follow their Social Media handles to be in the know once they resume.

The only way for the film industry to grow is to take a risk with new talent as opposed to recycling the existing ones.

I agree. We have vast on-screen potential in the country waiting for their big break.

Beautifully written. Kudos to the author. I watched the film and thought wow the producer was bold, courageous and creative

As a communication tool, film is a great conversation starter. Let’s keep watching Kenyan stories.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this. It’s a well thought out article and the author has clearly taken the time to ponder on the finer bits of the film, which in turn has me itching to watch it. Great read!

C’est en réalité une information agréable et utile. Je suis convaincu que vous venez de partager ces informations utiles avec nous. S’il vous plaît, gardez-nous au courant de ceci. Merci d’avoir partagé. Windy Dave Vipul

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