Review Mother of George
07 Oct 2015
Yes, I know I am very very late to the party. Mother of George premiered at the Sundance Film Festival, January 2013 and I am just writing this review nearly 3 years later. However, no matter how much time has passed, Mother of George still deserves many marvelous reviews. Director Andrew Dosunmu has given us a treasure that raises the bar for African films in a exceedingly prestigious way. What an incredible Netflix find!
An explosion of color is the best way that I can describe the opening of the film. The audience has been invited to a traditional Nigerian wedding with Yoruba traditions abound! We have a front row seat to the ceremony where the bride, Adenike, played by Danai Gurira (The Walking Dead), is given the charge “You and your husband, nothing will ruin you two. You will give birth to a son. You will give birth to a daughter. You will give birth to twins as well.”
On the night of the wedding, right before the marriage is consummated, Adenike sits with her mother-in-law and receives the gifts of waist beads for fertility, and the cloth that her mother in law carried Adenike’s husband in as an infant. This cloth is passed down so that Adenike may carry her own son in it, who is to be named George Babatunde after his own grandfather. No pressure there, huh?
Adenike’s husband, Ayodele, played by Isaach de Bankole, is the breadwinner of the family. This leaves Adenike to fulfill her most important duty; bearing children. And when we see Adenike’s negative pregnancy test , we understand what a problem this is. We are almost on the same ledge that Adenike is when she drinks stomach turning fertility concoctions and visits spiritual practitioners. And we side with her when she has to endure conversations with her overbearing mother-in-law who blames her for the childless marriage. And of course when Adenike tells her very conservative husband that she would like them to see a fertility specialist, he cannot even fathom being the one responsible for their inability to get pregnant.
Instead of agreeing to speak with Ayodele about visiting the fertility specialist as Adenike implores her to, Andenike’s mother-in-law accuses her of being ungrateful and disrespectful of the sacrifices Ayodele has made to bring her to the U.S. and provide for her. Adenike’s mother-in-law pushes her to do something that transforms Mother of George into a film that is pleasantly disturbing.
Mother of George is a 107 minute love affair with dark skin. The cinematographer, Bradford Young, of Selma and Pariah, has created a work of art, frame by frame. The contrasts of yellows and blues also kissed the ebony colored palettes from scene to scene. Like the films Kama Sutra: A Tale of Love (1996) and Curse of the Golden Flower (2006), Bradford Young has given us enough visual pulchritude that I was compelled to watch Mother of George twice: once for the actual story and a second time just to indulge in all of the visual artistry at work. Though I would have liked to see some wider establishing shots that would have given me pleasant flash backs of my hometown, Brooklyn, I appreciate Young’s artistic vision and his execution. Mother of George should be at the top of everyone’s Netflix queue!