November 21, 2013 -- This film is about a young couple with fertility troubles caught between two worlds, ancient African traditions, and life in 21st Century America. At times it is hard to tell which of these two different worlds is being portrayed at any particular moment.
The first part of the film is almost like a documentary, showing beautiful Nigerian wedding ceremonies between Adenike (Danai Gurira of “The Walking Dead”) and Ayodele Balogun (Isaach De Bankolé of “Casino Royale”). An important role in the ceremonies is played by Ayodele's mother, Ma Ayo (Bukky Ajayi). She gives the bride, Adenike some gifts related to fertility.
Ayodele runs a restaurant in Brooklyn, New York, with his brother, Biyi (played by Anthony Okungbowa). Adenike would like to work, but her husband is traditional and doesn't want her to. There is some tension between the two as time goes by and Adenike doesn't get pregnant. She starts getting more pressure from Ma Ayo. She goes to a fertility clinic which she believes can help, but Ayodele refuses to go there. Ayodele is also having an affair with another woman.
She tries traditional remedies and folk medicine to no avail. Adenike is out of ideas. She turns to Ma Ayo, who suggests she try to get pregnant with Ayodele's brother, Biyi. “It's the same blood,” says Ma Ayo and Ayodele need never know that he is not the father of the child. In utter desperation, she follows the suggestion. This, of course, leads to all kinds of problems.
This is a truly gorgeous-looking film with beautiful, colorful African clothing, beautiful people with perfect skin. It is expertly lensed by Bradford Young, who won a Sundance cinematography Award this year for his work in this film and in “Ain't Them Bodies Saints.” The film has an exotic feel to it with its mixture of English and Nigerian languages, clothing and customs.
The acting in the film is very strong as powerful emotions explode onto the screen. Bukky Ajayi is a powerful presence in the film, ruling the roost with quiet authority. She commands the screen when her son bursts into her room and accuses her of meddling in his marriage. She puts him right in his place. There is no question who is in charge.
I liked this scene and another scene at the marriage ceremony where wisdom is imparted to the young groom by his elders and friends. There is a lot of wisdom in this film. There is strength in the old traditions, and error, too. In America, many people don't have these old traditions to guide them. They are something to hold onto, and that is a comfort. This film rates a B.
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