Those unfamiliar with the cinema of Nigeria may be surprised to learn that the local film industry, colloquially known as Nollywood, is the world’s second most productive, with over 2,000 films produced a year. Upon closer inspection, it would appear that almost all of them are very cheaply made, digitally shot and released straight to DVD, resulting in a charming drop in quality that audiences prize for their “true-to-life” approach. This bizarre example follows two singers, Bernice and Rhyme, as they compete to win $100,000 and a recording contract. Bernice, modelling herself on R&B star Beyoncé, tires of her traditional parents and moves in with record producer Jay (without the ‘Z’). Having come second place to Rihanna-mimicking Rhyme before, Bernice takes her on as an enemy and the two continually try to outdo each other every step of the way.
Beyonce & Rihanna is a curious affair, a colourful accidental document of two cultures colliding. Technically, the film leaves a lot to be desired: no control over sound levels, inconsistent lighting, lax editing (an entire minute is dedicated to Bernice removing her suitcase from a car). The script is needlessly wordy, almost as if Stephen Fry had satirically revised it. But being more objective, the film’s real problem is that neither girl can sing or dance – or act, for that matter – making the entire exercise rather unconvincing. If for nothing else, watch it for the scene where Rhyme, straddling a Bang & Olufsen speaker, flubs her way through Rihanna’s Unfaithful.