That doesn't stop folks from making babies, though, especially when it's a cultural imperative, as we see in the new film Mother of George, director Andrew Dosunmu's follow-up to his feature debut, Restless City. It played at the Brooklyn Academy of Music during its fifth annual CinemaFest film festival. I hadn't planned on seeing anything else at the fest - I found out about it late - but I knew I had to see this one.
|'Mother' star Danai Gurira|
Mother reminded me more than a little bit of the film Breaking the Waves, although I can't say specifically why without revealing spoilers. I can say, however, that in both films, circumstance places the burden of "fixing" the marriage on the wife, even though it means defying cultural mores.
Like Bess, Adenike lives within a small, restricted community with ancient traditions and clearly defined gender roles, and also like Bess, Adenike shows signs of chafing against them. In one scene, we see her on the telephone arguing with her mother-in-law and at one point she pleads something along the lines of, "Why is it always the woman?" The implication is that if she and her husband can't make a child, there must be something wrong with her.
|'Mother' DP Bradford Young (l), |
costume designer Mobolaji Dawodu (r)
Adenike gives of herself completely to Ayodele (played by Jim Jarmusch regular Isaach de Bankole), uncomplainingly and unconditionally, yet even when things go sour in their marriage, it's clear that she still loves him, and that she does the things she does out of love. This is her culture; she was born to it and she knew what marriage within it would mean, so when it turns on her, it feels like a betrayal, and Gurira makes you feel the heartbreak.
|'Mother' screenwriter Darci Picoult|
First-time screenwriter Darci Picoult's script knows just how much to reveal and how much to leave to the imagination, and as a result, it keeps you engaged in the story. You have to pay attention if you wanna know what's going on. At the same time, it doesn't get in the way of the startling visuals, since Dosunmu is very much a visual director.
Mother has it all, folks. Easily one of the best movies I'm likely to see all year, and if it can catch fire the way Nowhere did last year, you're gonna hear a whole lot more about it. It's due to come out in September.