JDIFF Review – Mother of George

When newly wed Adenike (Danai Gurira) struggles to get pregnant she turns to her friends and family for advice. There ensues a clash of cultures and ideology as she follows the advice of her westernised friends and seeks the help of her mother in law, who holds tight to African tribal values.

The story at the heart of Mother of George is a rather universal one; the concern that men might be infertile. There is less of a stigma attached to this among the younger Western generations, but this is where the conflict in mother of George comes from.

The film is shot in an intriguing manner, more photography than cinematography, which belies director Andrew Dosunmu’s work as a photographer. To this end, many of the shots are off centre, conversations happen with people off camera and colours pop through in background and clothing. While this serves to underline Adenike’s struggle, and feeling that she is an alien world that she has yet to understand, the framing choices soon being to grate, as it feels we are missing the other half of the scene and the reactions from the other characters.

It is hard to tell whether the performances in the film are actually good or just oddly framed at times; we could be watching an overblown melodrama or an understated dramatic piece but spending much of our time getting used to the framing and cinematographic choices means we are distracted from the performances.

It’s a good job then, that the story is a simple one; Adenike struggles to get pregnant, and this becomes the focus of her life, much as it was the focus of her wedding. There are many many people who struggle with the same issue, but this seems to be the only thing the character can think and talk about, leaving us with very little understanding of the character as a whole, and whether she has any other dreams or hopes in her life. The same goes for the rest of the characters, so focused are they on this single issue.

Mother of George is an unusual cinematic experience both in terms of the cinematography and the focus on a single issue. There are times when the framing shines, and times when it grates, and since the characters are reduced to pregnancy-obsessed creatures, it is hard to empathise with their issues. Some interesting cinematography and framing, and a universal story is reduced to a badly paced curiosity in Mother of George.

Rating: 2/5

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