A previous post about grassroots efforts in Africa in support of childless women noted that in many countries, Nigeria and Ghana in particular, a majority of people have “never” considered infertility – what they refer to as “barrenness” to be a man’s fault. Never. Ever. Mother of George, a new film presented at the 2013 Sundance Film Festival, looks at infertility from a Nigerian woman’s point of view. A Nigerian woman living in Brooklyn, New York.
“Mother of George” is a title joyfully bestowed upon main character Adenike on her wedding day. In the traditional Yoruba ceremony, she learns the name of her yet-to-be-conceived son. Gee, no pressure there. Family, friends and an entire culture are involved when it’s clear that she and husband Ayodele (veteran actor Isaach De Bankole – 24) can’t get the job done.
Critics say the role of Adenike is played to perfection by actress Danai Gurira — you may know her from AMC’s The Walking Dead or Treme on HBO. Ms. Gurira’s parents immigrated to America from Zimbabwe; she was born in Iowa but walks comfortably in African skin. At 35, she has no children of her own. In the film, she communicates most strongly through facial cues, subtly sharing Adenike’s painful realization that her body has become “a de facto battlefield“.
A review by The NY Times hints at a plot twist that takes the story toward melodrama. I won’t reveal the big secret here, but it’s out on the web. Suffice it to say that the thing that makes it most shocking is that it’s suggested by Adenike’s mother-in-law.
Mother of George is supposed to be a beautiful film; it won at Sundance in the U.S. category for Dramatic Best Cinematography. It opened in theaters September 13th in ‘selected cities‘ as they say, and my city ain’t one of them. Funnier still, I’d be willing to drive to a showing 3 or 4 hours away, but I’ve been called to jury duty on those dates.
Sooner or later, Netflix or some such will bring Mother of George to my living room. In the meantime, if you’re lucky enough to be in a big-screen audience, drop a note to let us know what you thought of it.