“Love heals,” was the answer Isaach De Bankolé gave when asked about the theme of his new movie, Mother of George, written by American screenwriter Darci Picoult. Mother of George is a moving portrait of an immigrant Nigerian family whose actions challenge the perception and thresholds of unconditional love.
Director Andrew Dosunmu immediately sets both the tone and artistic style by opening with a silent intimate study of a Nigerian Yoruba wedding ceremony taking place in an unsuspected Brooklyn dining hall, bad carpet and all. The camera pans in extreme close-ups, defining characterization within subtle physical innuendos and sumptuous costuming. Sensuous and visually intoxicating, the film earned Bradford Young the Cinematography Award at this years Sundance Film Festival.
The story unravels when Adenike and Ayodele, a Nigerian immigrant couple living in Brooklyn, are unable to conceive a child after 18 months of marriage. The problem intensifies into Adenike’s feelings of alienation, defying both cultural and gender expectations, forcing her to make a decision that could either save or destroy her family.
Danai Gurira delivers a delicate performance of Adenike’s vulnerable desperation while her husband and brother-in-law are soulfully played by Isaach De Bankolé and Anthony Okungbowa. The cultural authenticity may cause you to believe your watching a foreign film as both male leads bring their Nigerian heritage to the table.
Mother of George is as stylistically rich as it’s fashion stylist / photographer turned director. Dosunmu drips flavor and is an original tastemaker. His raw approach to art has always been immediately identifiable and a testament to his own Nigerian roots. I feel lucky to have assisted him in the 90’s. Rumor has it that he will be directing the Fela Kuti biopic. One can only wish.
The film opens this weekend to critical acclaim in art houses nationwide.