Trendy Film Report: Andrew Dosunmu’s Mother of George is Laced With Good Intentions
Andrew Dosunmu’s newest offering, Mother of George, is a testament to his background as a former creative director and fashion photographer for design house Yves Saint Laurent. The visual tones and kinetic sound bites generate enough endurance to keep the viewer in tuned and somewhat devoted to this culturally driven vehicle.
We are transported to a world that reveals the burden and unrelenting pressure that comes with familial obligations especially when caught between the old and new world.
The opening sequence envelopes us with the splendor of a traditional Nigerian wedding with all it’s pomp and circumstance and the fact that Dosunmu is of Nigerian descent explains how he is able to impeccably capture the vibrant nuances that usually accompany this particular occasion,
This is our introduction to Adenike affectingly played by Danai Gurira and Ayodele played by the incomparable Isaach De Bankole. Once the festivities come to an end and the dust settles we are privy to the inner workings of a new marriage in all its threaded fragility. The outside elements that almost always threaten the freshly molded foundation arrive just in time to wreck irrevocable damage.
Adenike is understandably eager to have her first child in order to dutifully fulfill her marital obligations and remain in good standing with her feverish in-laws. But unfortunately as time passes it becomes painfully clear that she is unable to conceive and this leads to a series of events that catapult to a predictably disastrous climax.
Caught in a tumultuous web of disbelief and desperation Adenike tries to seek medicinal help but for reasons we don’t quite understand her husband is reluctant to explore the options his wife is so passionately rendering. So she gradually descends into the black hole and the only glimmer of light is provided by her intrusive and overbearing mother-in-law played to perfection by Bukky Ajayi. She readily asserts that the male child she had earlier declared would be christened George has to be conceived come hell or high water. She emphatically convinces Adenike to procreate with Biyi, (Tony Okungbowa) the younger brother of her possibly infertile husband. As unbearable as this seems, it pales in comparison to the dire possibility that that she and Ayodele could remain childless for the rest of their days. So she embarks on a journey that takes her to intense procreating sessions with her brother-in-law and almost immediately she becomes pregnant.
The happiness that is shared with family members is heartfelt but the celebratory mood is swiftly replaced with absolute disillusionment once the guilty parties realize that the weight of the situation they have created is more than both of them can seamlessly carry without buckling.
Once the secret is out, Ayodele is predictably inconsolably devastated and promptly distances himself physically and emotionally from his wife and brother.
The film ends with Adenike in the hospital being wheeled into the theater as her labor progresses and as the familiar faces gather to await the impending arrival, her husband makes an unexpected appearance and the camera closes in on him walking down the hall, completely emotionless.
Dosunmu who garnered impressive reviews for his first film Restless City definitely has some of the traits that most formidable filmmakers possess when it comes to the visual landscape. But the dramatic requirements still need to be adequately polished in order to evoke appropriate empathy. Gurira and De Bankole are obviously talented beyond measure but they were not given the opportunity to reach the heights that the storyboard required. They were regulated to sharply inclined close ups and cinematic filtration that ultimately stifled what could have been award winning performances.
But there is no doubt that this film will garner enough interest to keep it somewhat relevant for a little while, mostly because it focuses on the complexities that come with the unification of modern and traditional values. And that’s a subject that consistently entices the ever-present cognitive audience.