By Jan Aaron
Simply telling the story of Andrew Dosunmus' enticing feature Mother of George, doesn't convey the movie's extraordinary visual power. The film's poetic impact begins with preparations for a colorful Yoruba wedding in Brooklyn, with close-ups of the wedding parties of Ike (Danai Gurira), the newly arrived Nigerian bride, and Ayo (Isaach de Bankole), her groom.
Ayo works with his younger brother Biyi (Tony Okunghowa) at a restaurant overseen by their mother, (Bukky Ajayi). After the ceremonies, the women gather around the bride, giving her child rearing tips. While the men counsel the groom on how to hide his infidelities.
Thus, director Nigerian Dosunmu and screenwriter Daniel Picoult carefully begin to document the friction that ensues when the rigid gender expectations of Nigerian tradition clash with more liberal opportunities that Ike's new home offers. And when after eighteen months, Ike hasn't become pregnant, Ayo becomes enraged when she offers to get a job to pay for a fertility specialist. He refuses to even go to the doctor, fearing it will reveal that he's infertile.
By this time, Ma Ayo (Bukky Ajay), who holds on to old fashioned ideas, believes her own happiness lies in having a grandchild. Even if it means that Ike must provide one with another partner. Thus she enlists Ayo's big brother Biyi - who has been keeping secret his affair with Ayo's best friend Sade (Yaya Alafia), fearing that her Western values will offend his family.
One of the film's greatest achievements it to present exotic characters with a familial dilemma that crosses international borders and cultures. A further delight of this drama, is the way filmmaker Dosunmu and Bradford Young's gorgeous cinematography highlight Ike in colorful Nigerian dresses. Which make her seem like some distant goddess on congested Brooklyn streets.
Ike is also shot in close-up, so that we see the world from her narrow perspective. As she stands out from the crowd, like a marvelous exotic addition to Brooklyn's landscape.
Jan Aaron writes for Education Update, and is a member of the Women Film Critics Circle.