Take a Drink: whenever fertility or children are mentioned
Take a Drink: for the food!
Take a Drink: for every pregnancy test
Take a Drink: for angry one-sided telephone conversations
Take a Drink: whenever Mom-in-Law applies pressure
Do a Shot: whenever she says something straight awful
By: Henry J. Fromage (Three Beers) –
Most of the time, searching out great cinematographers is as easy as following great directors, as the Roger Deakins(es?) and Emmanuel Luzbekis of the world generally only work with the upper echelon. There are some exciting names coming up in the business these days, like Rob Hardy (The Invisible Woman) and Ross Riege (Kings of Summer) are some exciting names coming up in the business these days, but Bradford Young (Ain’t Them Bodies Saints) might be the most exciting up-and-coming DP of them all.
On the other end of the scale: a drunken and embittered Rob Schneider now shoots all of Adam Sandler’s movies.
Mother of George might be his masterwork. It’s about a newly married Nigerian couple (Danai Gurira and Isaach De Bankole) living in New York, whose relationship is put to the test when they have difficulty conceiving.
Director Andrew Dosunmu comes from an art and music video directing background, and his eye coupled with Bradford Young’s skills make for a stunningly beautiful film. Calling every shot fit to hang on your wall may sound like hyperbole, but I honestly think you could frame any random shot from this film, nail it above your sofa, and become the envy of the neighborhood.
The sex scenes in particular should provoke some interesting reactions.
The wedding at the beginning of the film is both a culturally fascinating peek into the customs of a not often-filmed society and a simply gorgeous visual experience, as the riot of different hues and fabrics simply pop at you. It’s a banquet of color and motion. The lighting is also exceptional, a master-class in color and contrast, and a practical how-to guide for filming complexions that Hollywood all too frequently ignores.
Storywise, Mother of George shines a light on how traditional sexual politics mix with, and often trump, modernity. When it becomes clear that something isn’t working between the couple, instead of going to a doctor, which Bankole resists, his mother pushes him to find another wife, or in the case of him being the culprit, that Gurira take a path that threatens to destroy their family.
Bankole is his usual excellent self, taking an underwritten, easily stereotyped role and creating a decent man with his own understandable wishes and fears, but it’s Gurira who’s the real star, showing her enormous range as a strong-minded but very traditional and soft-spoken woman trying to respect that tradition without compromising her principles.
The only thing soft about Michonne is how she wipes your blood off her sword.
As good a job as the actors do, it’s difficult to really connect with their characters. This is a fault of the script, which tailors its characters to the plot, not vice-versa. The consequence of this is that we learn virtually nothing about them that isn’t related to their marriage and infertility.
The shots in this film might be too pretty. Dosunmu seems unwilling to cut them down any, which bogs down the pace to the point it feels like we are watching an admittedly gorgeous slideshow. However, this inconsistent pace coupled with the narrow focus of the characters undercuts the dramatic tension, leaving you strangely detached right when emotion should be building to a climax.
Mother of George is a truly beautiful-looking film about Nigerian culture in New York that falls a bit short plot-wise. Wow, is it beautiful, though.