Mothers-in-law. They’re the worst.
Well, not in all cases, but the mother-in-law (Bukky Ayaji) in “Mother of George” is a royal pain who eventually pushes her family into self-destruction.
It’s not just the woman herself, of course: It’s what she represents and expects and ultimately demands, which are old-culture norms chafing mightily on a new-culture life.
That new-culture life belongs to (or should belong to) Adenike (Danai Gurira), a Nigerian woman who has moved to Brooklyn to marry Ayodele (Isaach De Bankole), a restaurant owner.
On her wedding night, Adenike is told by her mother-in-law that she has an obligation to bear a son, who will be called George after her late husband.
Problem is, months later Adenike is still not pregnant, but she is under fierce and constant pressure from the mother-in-law to become so. Adenike is fearful that her husband will leave her for another woman (even though Ayodele himself is not pressuring her).
Adenike wants to see a fertility specialist, but Ayodele says it’s too expensive. Wracked with fear and shame, she finally consents to her mother-in-law’s plan, which involves her other son (Anthony Okungbowa).
The story by first-time writer Darci Picoult is an old-world family mess, and Gurira — best known as the sword-wielding zombie warrior on “The Walking Dead” — has many powerful moments as a woman pressured.
But director Andrew Dosunmu drags what should have been a tight 90-minute film out to 107 minutes, moving too slowly and getting way too caught up in camera work — slow motion portraits against colorful backgrounds, parades of colorful costumes — that lends little to the story.
He dilutes his own film by over-saturating it. In the end, “George” becomes almost as irritating as that mother-in-law.
'Mother of George'
Rated R for sexuality, some language and a disturbing image
Running time: 107 minutes