Monday, September 23, 2013

Mother of George

Set in the Nigerian community in Brooklyn, Andrew Dosunmu's "Mother of George," while lovely to look at, allows its single issue to crowd out the character development that might have given it greater resonance.

The movie opens with the wedding of Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach de BankolĂ©). The guests shower Nike with gifts and blessings, including a belt from Ayo's mother (Bukky Ajayi) meant to bring her health and fertility. "My son works hard for you and will always take care of you," Ma Ayo tells her. "Give him a son." But when eighteen months go by with no baby, and Ayo won't come with Nike to the doctor, Ma Ayo concocts a distasteful Plan B that upends Nike's marriage and best-friendship with Sade (Yaya Alafia). 

It's the sort of plot where if any of several characters at any point did the clearly right thing, there wouldn't be a movie. And there's not much to "Mother of George" but plot - besides the blue-black glow Dosunmu has suffused it in and Nike's endless supply of dashikis, which he can be forgiven for filming with fetishistic focus (they're spectacular). It's nice to see de BankolĂ© after all these years (he first hit American screens as Protee in Claire Denis' "Chocolat," and his Paris segment was the best of the five in Jim Jarmusch's global cab ride "Night on Earth"), but the rest of the performances are shrieky and devoid of nuance.

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