The detailed Mother of George captures life in an ethnic enclave in Brooklyn
The inability to have a child is often treated as a "white people problem," the province of middle- and upper-class couples who end up resorting to expensive fertility treatments. But Andrew Dosunmu's supple, observant drama Mother of George puts a different spin on this anguishing issue: What happens when a woman's fertility — or lack thereof — becomes everybody's business but her own? That's the predicament faced by Adenike (Danai Gurira), a newly married woman living in a West African enclave of Brooklyn. Her husband, Ayodele (Isaach De Bankolé), runs his own restaurant, working hard to provide for her. But after a year or so of marriage, Adenike hasn't conceived a child. Ayodele isn't too bothered — he's happy with the couple's life as it is. But he's also insulated from the pressure that his mother (Bukky Ajayi) has been putting on his wife: She sees Adenike's failure to produce a child as a breach of family pride. In her eyes, Adenike's infertility is an inherent flaw that needs to be fixed, and Adenike finds herself buckling under that pressure. As Adenike, Gurira is wonderful: Her face is radiant whether she's channeling anguish or joy, and she captures the ways in which this woman, so old-country dutiful, also longs to join the modern world. The plot hinges on a simple question: How far will Adenike go to bear a child? The answer isn't all that important. The film is more notable for the way Dosunmu layers details and textures, capturing the nuances of everyday life among one of New York's many ethnic microcosms. Even more remarkable is just how complicated, and how public, a woman's childbearing challenges can be.
Get the Film & TV Newsletter
Stay up to date on the best new movies with our critics' latest reviews, interviews and trailers for the films coming to a theater near you each week.