The cradle rocks a childless couple in Andrew Dosunmu's engrossing Mother of George 

Mother of Necessity

Mother of Necessity

Set among Brooklyn's Nigerian community, Andrew Dosunmu's Mother of George opens with a traditional, colorful ceremony wherein young, beautiful Adenike (Danai Gurira) is wed to older Brooklyn restaurateur Ayodele (played by the great veteran actor Isaach de Bankole). She is then informed that she is now the "Mother of George" — George being the name of her unborn, unconceived first child. When George, after many valiant attempts by Adenike and Ayodele, proves not to be so forthcoming, our heroine finds herself increasingly facing the pressures of her smothering Yoruba culture.

That makes the movie sound like it could be a by-the-numbers slog through the usual anti-patriarchal touchstones. But Dosunmu is a filmmaker, not a propagandist — a distinction often lost on artists tackling this type of delicate subject matter. His film, written by Darci Picoult, is less a screed and more a gorgeous immersion in the stifling, vivid ever-presence of tradition, exploding with almost seizure-inducing bursts of color (courtesy of Ain't Them Bodies Saints cinematographer Bradford Young). The camera is alternately off-kilter or uncomfortably close — everything is a little off.

Oddly enough, that slightly unbalanced visual style places even greater emphasis on the intensity of these performances. So much of this story takes place in the gestures and glances of the characters. And as the woman at the center of it all who has to become a reluctant agent of the patriarchy, the luminous Gurira (best known as The Walking Dead's fearsome Michonne) is a mesmerizing marvel.

Email arts@nashvillescene.com.


Opening Friday at local theaters: The late James Gandolfini in his last role in Nicole Holofcener's Enough Said (see the interview with Holofcener online at nashvillescene.com); Isaiah Washington in Blue Caprice, writer-director Alexandre Moors' dramatized inside account of the D.C. Beltway sniper murders (at The Belcourt); the romantic comedy Baggage Claim, with Paula Patton, Derek Luke and Taye Diggs; the continuing study in gusto-meteorological catastrophe Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs 2; and Nimrod Antal's 3-D concert film Metallica Through the Never. Held over at The Belcourt: the unstoppable In a World ... and the strongly buzzed indie drama Short Term 12. Also this weekend at The Belcourt: the sports drama Hoosiers 10 a.m. Saturday; and John Carpenter's Escape From New York midnight Friday and Saturday.

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