News Column

Movie Review: 'Mother of George' -- 3 stars

September 12, 2013


Sept. 12--A slice-of-life drama set amid the Nigerian community in Brooklyn, "Mother of George" is a classic New York immigrant story that's rendered in a new fashion.

The sophomore effort of filmmaker Andrew Dosunmu, best known as a photographer and director of music videos, the film forgoes the usual neo-realistic approach toward this sort of material for a painterly, meticulously composed technique.

It's genuinely beautiful, with slow-motion images of protagonist Adenike (Danai Gurira) practically floating down the street, a colorful wedding rich with detail, patches of light pouring in through curtains and deliberate camera movements capturing the oppression felt by the main character, who is under great pressure to conceive with husband Ayodele (Isaach De Bankole).

Dosunmu tells this story of sadness and alienation through his visuals, relying heavily on cinematographer Bradford Young. You get the feeling he would happily do away with words entirely. Occasionally, the movie's abstract qualities envelop it in an emotional coldness, with so much attention called to the craft at hand that the characters suffocate.

The close-knit universe of "Mother of George" has an otherworldly quality felt in a pervasive sense of isolation. The filmmaker takes great pains to set these characters apart from the world around them. The camera roots Adenike's plight in specific cultural modes while simultaneously universalizing the experience of being subjugated.

In short, "Mother of George" charts new territory for this sort of production and represents the further shaping of a resonant cinematic voice.


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