In theatres is a Sundance Film Festival winner for Best Cinematography from Oscilloscope, director Andrew Dosunmu and screenwriter Darci Picoult is the poignant MOTHER OF GEORGE.
This film tells the story of Adenike (Danai Gurira) and her husband Ayodele (Isaach De Bankole), a Nigerian couple who are starting married life together. Ayodele runs a restaurant in Brooklyn with his brother younger Biyi (Anthony Okungbowa) who doesn’t seems as interested in it as his older brother.
Adenike keeps their home and everyday brings Ayodele home cooked meals to show her love and appreciation for him. When not at home she sometimes visits with her best friend Sade (Yaya Alafia), a young woman that is very westernized in her dress and mannerisms.
As time goes by in their marriage, Adenike is unable to get pregnant. Trying to help matters she visits a fertility clinic to seek options. Ayodele knows this is an expensive proposition and avoids it.
His mother Ma Nike (Angelique Kidjo) blames Adenike and tells her there are other ways to get the baby they all desperately want. Shocked by her advice, she must make the decision to continue on their childless path or do whatever it takes to make the family she and her husband want.
It is a choice that may cost them everything!
FINAL WORD: Gurira as Adenike is superb and that’s not even a big enough word. I worried that I might be swayed to see Michonne, her character in THE WALKING DEAD. Within five minutes I was lost in her story and there was no sway worry. Gurira embraces this character giving it every chance to find a life outside of the situation she finds herself in. Feeling sorry for Adenike gives way to anger that the choice she must make is even put to her. Well done Ms. Gurira!
Bankole as Ayodele is a man who wants to make his own way. Running the restaurant and proving a good life for his wife are admirable goals. Knowing that having a child is of utmost importance to his wife and a constant complaint by his mother, the stress has to be incredible and I did feel for him deeply. When the twists are revealed I also understand his reaction but find his anger deeply misplaced. What a whirlwind character of emotions.
Alafia as Sade is an example of a woman who culturally assimilates living in Brooklyn. Her life, clothing and career are something that Adenike admires greatly. Sade also sees the constraints of loving a man trying to find the fine line between where he comes from and where he is.
Okungbowa as Biyi is a character that is just riddled with dedication to family and honoring himself. Keeping his relationship with Sade a secret from his family did perplex me a little. If Okungbowa looks familiar that can easily be explained as he has been seen by millions as the DJ from THE ELLEN SHOW. Didn’t see that coming did you?
Kidjo as Ma Nike is the woman causing the firestorm of decisions. I won’t say much more about this character because she definitely has to be experienced to be believed. Kidjo does an excellent job keeping face, literally, with her responsibility in this mixed mess.
Other cast include: Bukky Ajayi as Ma Ayo, Mutiyat Ade-Salu as Helen, Susan Heyward as Monica, Babs Olusanmokun as Tunde, Hubert Jour as Tony, Da’Vine Randolph as Marsea.
TUBS OF POPCORN: I give MOTHER OF GEORGE three and a half tubs of popcorn out of five. This film has so much to offer in the way of culture, color, and beauty that the twists and turns mesh in it all with a shocking result. I can honestly say I shook my head a lot in this film thinking ‘oh this isn’t going to be good at all’ yet was riveted to see if I was wrong.
The long pauses, the quiet moments and the pain is all wrapped up in a story that has huge amounts of all the above. When director Dosunmu was asked to describe the film, she said, “The film is about love, tradition, sacrifice and hope. Some viewers may think it is about betrayal, others may see it as about overwhelming love. I welcome both interpretations as I realize, in making this film, that love has infinite layers. It never looks the same each day. One thing is for sure, what people do for love is both a mystery and revelation”.
The same question to screenwriter Picoult, “At its heart, it is a story about a family and a marriage and the ties that bind them together. It is a story about family expectations and personal desires and how the two rub up against each other. It is about the secrets and lies we have in order to deal with this rub. It is about what we do to create the life we want and how our actions affect those in our lives.
It is exactly that, but as with love, every viewer is going to come away with asking themselves the same question, ‘what would you do to have everything you want?’.
In the end – it is a story of love and pain.
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