Mother of George explores a Nigerian couple living in Brooklyn, struggling to conceive a child. Dosunmu (Restless City) shows the classic, but still intriguing tension between traditional roots and contemporary culture, in this case being Nigerian roots and Brooklyn culture. At a deeper level, as Dosunmu puts it, Mother of George is about “…love, innocence, trust, tradition, custom, history.”
The heart of conflict in the film centers on the couple’s inability to conceive, since using modern doctors violates tradition. The husband is unwilling to meet with a doctor to be tested for fertility. As usual, the woman is held responsible for all problems, including ones she can’t control. Powered by love, she must find a solution. Difficult decisions and tense situations ensue.
The film won the Best Cinematography prize at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. Dosunmu is not interested in Hollywood-style elevated realities. He lets the camera watch characters sit with the decisions they’ve made and the ones they’re about to make. I love this style, of letting people simply exist. While a very different film, I praised other Sundance dramatic feature Afternoon Delight for the same strength earlier this year. Dosunmu really cares about his characters, you can sense it from the images and camera movement.
I respect Mother of George for the issues it tackles and the artistry it employs, but I could not connect. It’s definitely a film that I had to wade through, but it was worth the effort.