Mother of George Screen 16 articles

Mother of George

2013

Mother of George Poster
  • Suggestion is mostly what Dosunmu does... he often seems averse to let these dramas play out in full. Slow-motion bumper shots of bedizened characters making their way down the street, or glimpses of tense emotional aftermath can’t add up to a probing portrayal of the characters, who feel arrayed (along with a couple of outbursts) amid the fabrics. Dosunmu continues to dazzle us with how he outfits his actors, but it still remains for him to direct them with equivalent panache.

  • To earn money on her own, Adenike takes a job cleaning houses—a subplot that could almost be a movie on its own—but Dosunmu doesn’t include a frame of it; the story remains sealed in a plotted enclosure in which the characters are trapped, and the formidable, deeply engaged cast of actors can’t do much about it.

  • As with Dosunmu’s last film Restless City (2011), the filmmaker displays a knack for detailing rituals and cultural signifiers (that Yoruba wedding sequence!) in ways that are eye-poppingly gorgeous without feeling like grandstanding. It’s hard to think of a recent movie that’s made better use of shifting focal points as a formal trick to express alienation—with both her modern urban surroundings and old-world customs—or that’s displayed such delicate eroticism in its love scenes.

  • All those sherbet-colored tableaux and slow-motion tracking shots initially seem to choke the story, but eventually the film’s visual rhythm matches how Adenike and Ayodele are constrained by tradition. They merely want to be at peace with each other and their world. Nothing could feel more natural, or more impossible.

  • A stunningly imagined account of African immigrant life in present-day Brooklyn, the Sundance-prizewinning "Mother of George" is a film with a visual manner so unusual and forcefully elaborated that it could conceivably overwhelm any story it was used to tell. Thankfully, though, director Andrew Dosunmu evidences a sure sense of how all his cinematic elements fit together. The result is a work in which style and story unite to create a singularly mesmerizing look at a culture within a culture.

  • Bradford Young, who lensed “Ain’t Them Bodies Saints,” is the cinematographer, and the palette is gorgeous — no jaundiced digital tinge here, the jewel tones of clothing and rooms pop right off the screen. Still, at times the visual vocabulary is jarring, with many extreme close-ups and scenes cropped to withhold information in a way that can seem forced. At other times it works, such as when the camera stays on Adenike alone as she has a world-shattering confrontation with her husband.

  • As in many African films, the slender plot is reminiscent of folklore and provides a sense of tradition against which the filmmakers can examine evolving gender roles. The examination doesn't go very deep, however—the movie feels less like a narrative feature than a fashion spread with narrative elements.

  • When Adenike fails to become pregnant in a timely manner, her formidable mother-in-law proposes a solution worthy of Greek tragedy, but one that Dosunmu and screenwriter Darci Picoult deploy with a minimum of melodrama and a maximum of psychological realism.

  • ...Danai Gurira and Isaach De Bankolé deliver performances of remarkable emotional power and subtlety. Directing his second feature, Nigerian-born Dosunmu entices us with a world of abundant sensory riches, while making us aware that we are outsiders who have difficulty grasping the complete picture.

  • Like the layers of the shimmering fabrics that covered the bodies of the newlywed, the plot of Mother of George is alluring and complex, taking a turn, and then another. It segues into the rift that separates husband and wife, proud tradition versus timid modernity, then, through the formidable intervention of the matriarch, Ma Ayo (Nollywood veteran actress Bukky Ajayi), (3) morphs into a family melodrama, with the gravitas of an ancient Yoruba tale.

  • Bradford Young’s cinematography is sensual and hypnotic, with dramatically shallow depth of field and strikingly off-kilter compositions. The poetic visuals create a disorienting sense of being at once immersed in the characters’ world and kept at a distance.

  • It doesn't hurt that Mother of George, shot by Bradford Young, is gorgeous. Young won Sundance's 2013 cinematography award for his work on this film and on David Lowery'sAin't Them Bodies Saints. While Saints resembles a Terrence Malick–inspired scrapbook, an admiring student's thesis project, Mother of George represents a thoughtful and original matching of visuals to story, and it's one that breathes.

  • The film, which is beautiful, poetic, and hard-hitting without the use of excessive force, and deeply layered with evolving and regional nuances of feminine experience, revolves around Adenike Balogun (Danai Gurira), a newlywed in constant conflict with the traditions of her heritage and the relative progress of modern, Western womanhood.

  • If I describe Andrew Dosunmu’s wistful and spectacular “Mother of George” as a largely realistic drama about the lives of Nigerian immigrants in New York, that’s accurate without remotely being adequate. This is one of the most striking entries in the 2013 global wave of black cinema, but also admittedly one that poses hurdles to audiences with conventional expectations.

  • That slightly unbalanced visual style places even greater emphasis on the intensity of these performances. So much of this story takes place in the gestures and glances of the characters. And as the woman at the center of it all who has to become a reluctant agent of the patriarchy, the luminous Gurira (best known as The Walking Dead's fearsome Michonne) is a mesmerizing marvel.

  • Dosunmu and cinematographer Bradford Young play with light, colour and skin to produce a haunting, melancholy glare that speaks to the viewer both aesthetically and metaphorically.

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