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Friday, 25 October 2013 00:00

'Mother of George' dramatizes a profound, cultural crisis

'Mother of George' dramatizes a profound, cultural crisis
Written by Diane Carson
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  • Director: Andrew Dosunmu
  • Dates: Opens October 25, 2013

A visually gorgeous film, "Mother of George" tells a very personal story through an impressionistic style that foregrounds moods and emotions. Minimalist and slow by Hollywood standards, it explores profoundly and carefully the cultural and familial expectations dictating that newly married Andenike is expected to bear a child. When she fails to become pregnant, Nike's world threatens to shatter.

Set within the rich ethnic context of Nigerians living in Brooklyn, "Mother of George" begins with Nike, as she's called, and Ayodele marrying and adapting in their own, different ways to life in America. They enjoy superb support from friends and relatives, but also know the restrictive expectations that will prompt difficult decisions. Conflicted, struggling for a satisfactory solution, Nike seeks the impossible reconciliation of her deep love with traditional obligations.

Nigerian born and raised himself, director Andrew Dosunmu states in press notes that "as a filmmaker, I want to bring the weight of the African oral tradition to filmmaking, and my challenge is to bring that fluidity, that feeling, those emotions that the hearing of a story at your grandfather's knee evokes." In presenting such a story, he lingers on faces, watching them register the impact of comments and actions. Characters walk into and out of focus, suggesting metaphorically their individual yearning for clarity in the face of daunting ambiguity.

As Andenike, Danai Gurira possesses a charismatic calm that often contrasts with her husband Ayodele's personality. As played by the multi-award winning Isaach De Bankolé, their interaction reflects the emotional turmoil of the family in crisis. Darci Picoult's screenplay is honest and realistic, delivering what she said she hopes is, "a deeper understanding of this couple, this marriage, this family." She adds, "The difficult choices that each person makes in this film may provoke one person and inspire another."

An equal partner in this complex portrait, the art direction offers a visual feast with vibrant colors jumping off the screen. "Mother of George" won the best cinematography award for Bradford Young at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival. Primarily in English with Yoruba with English subtitles, at a Landmark Theatre.

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