FILM REVIEW: MOTHER OF GEORGE
Mother Of George, written by Darci Picoult and directed by Andrew Dosunmu, is a film as much about secrets and truth (or the distortion of them) as it is about the complicated and oftentimes public display of a woman’s childbearing challenges in many African cultures. Set in a tightly knit immigrant community in Brooklyn, NY, the film poses many unbearable questions — foremost, how far would someone go to hide the truth of things? The answer, shockingly far. Before we get further into the films’ review, I can’t help but share how I met its writer, Darci Picoult, at the Bushwick Film Festival’s “Women in Film” Panel in October.
When I nervously called Cori Thomas ( Screenwriter and Co-founder of Pa’s Hat Foundation) to ask her if she would be willing to be on the Bushwick Film Festival’s “Women in Film” Panel this year, I was extremely thrilled when she not only agreed, but also offered to call Darci Picoult, writer of Mother Of George, to be on the panel. And Darci Picoult said yes! Now, with Cori and Darci on board, the program was officially locked and their addition made the entire festival rock solid.
Cori strongly suggested that I go and see Mother Of George before the panel. However, the film hit theaters when the festival was just weeks away. But after meeting Darci and admiring her extremely insightful answers to the eager female filmmakers in the audience and hearing about the film’s journey, I ran to Quad Cinemas in Union Square just days after we closed.
As I lingered in my seat after the final credits had scrolled out of sight and the lights came up, I wondered if I had experienced the film differently because of two things. First, I had heard from the writer herself about the details of the film’s fifteen year journey to the screen. I had witnessed first hand how much she loved her own daughter (Darci’s final panel question asked her who her biggest inspiration was, and her response was her daughter, who sat bashfully in the front row). Would I have felt such a strong sense of appreciation without knowing the thousands of things that came together to make the film nearly perfect? And second, if I, myself, had not been from West Africa, Liberia, would the film have hit so close to home emotionally?
The film opens at the traditional Nigerian wedding of Adenike (Danai Gurira) and Ayodele (Isaach de Bankole). From the moment the first image hit the screen, I felt overwhelmed with how beautifully cinematographer Bradford Young (Middle Of Nowhere) depicted African culture, rich in all its tradition, color, grandeur, and African people (close camera shots of faces and bodies). The camera movement was breathtaking and the wedding scene beautiful. But it wasn’t too long after the blessings and advice were bestowed on the bride and groom with a final wish by the groom’s mother for a grandson named George, that the other face of tradition and culture reared its ugly head.
So the answer is yes. Yes, I may have had a different experience because of the two circumstances mentioned, but as it stands Mother Of George is a remarkable example of what can happen when a storyteller/playwright like Darci who has fine-tuned her craft teams up with a director like Andrew Dosunmu, who knows his subjects so intimately.
I highly suggest seeing the film in theaters, but sorry New York, it’s no longer on our big screens. But for our friends in Milwaukee and Tallahasse it is! Mother of George will continue to make its way across the U.S. between now and February. Click here to see a complete list of showtimes.
Director: Andrew Dosunmu
Writer: Darci Picoult