|MOTHER OF GEORGE (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)|
engaging immigrant drama of the
traditional Nigerian experience in NYC."
by Dennis Schwartz
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.
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.
REVIEWED ON 1/4/2014 GRADE: B
Dennis Schwartz: "Ozus' World Movie Reviews"
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