Mother of George (2013)


(director: Andrew Dosunmu; screenwriter: Darci Picoult; cinematographer: Bradford Young; editor: Oriana Soddu; music: Philip Miller; cast: Isaach De Bankolé (Ayodele Balogun), Danai Gurira (Adenike Balogun), Tony Okungbowa (Biyi Balogun), Yaya Alafia (Sade Bakare), Bukky Ajayi (Ma Ayo Balogun), Angelique Kidjo (Ma Nike); Runtime: 106; MPAA Rating: R; producers: Lars Knudsen/Jay Van Hoy/Matt Parker/Carly Hugo/Ms. Picoult/Chris Maybach/Saemi Kim/Patrick Cunningham/ony Okungbowa; Oscilloscope Laboratories; 2013-in English and Yoruba, with subtitles when necessary)
An engaging immigrant drama of the traditional Nigerian experience in NYC.”

Reviewed by Dennis Schwartz

An engaging immigrant drama of the traditional Nigerian experience in NYC, that’s written by first-time screenwriter, the American playwright-performer Darci Picoult, and directed by the Nigerian-born Andrew Dosunmu(“Restless City”/”Hot Irons”), a former fashion photographer. The visually beautiful pic ably translates the everyday rhythms of Brooklyn’s Yoruba community and highlights the dazzling colorful traditional costumes. It tells the story of a traditional family and how a young wife when infertile finds herself wondering how she can save her marriage as she’s trapped by the sometime cruel customs of traditional life.

Pic opens with the traditional wedding ceremony of Adenike (Danai Gurira, Zimbabwean actress) to gentle restaurant owner Ayodele (Isaach De Bankole). Ayodele’s pushy mother (Bukky Ajayi) meets at the end of the wedding with the guests and in a traditional blessing names the couple’s hoped for future child George (named for the mother-in-law’s deceased father). When, after 18 months of trying, Adenike is still without a child, the bossy mother-in-law urges the confused vulnerable bride to have hubby’s brother Biyi (Tony Okungbowa) father the child in secret, in order to keep the honor of the family.

It’s a bracing experience to watch this ethical dilemma play out in a culture most Americans won’t understand. But it works because Gurira gives such a winning performance as the compromised fragile wife, who is alone in her new country and can’t talk in confidence with her distracted hubby or her worldly friend Sade (Yaya Alafia) and is pressed into thinking this is the only way to save her failing marriage.