CineQ: Sweet Mother (Dir. Zena Igbe, 2019)
Efosa loves his mum. But he also loves Anwar. Sweet Mother is a film questioning British-Nigerian identity, cultural rejection and sexuality in the North of England.
Beginning with his mother’s 60th birthday party, Efosa, played by Tolu Ajayi, is introduced to us as a sweet son who loves his mother. Following tradition, we assume that he is a man who loves women and wants the younger members of his family to feel the same. But when we see him at work with another man, we know that he is having to hide who he is so that he won’t be cast away. Ajayi does a beautiful job in letting us as an audience see into the lives of so many people who face discrimination from their family due to their sexuality and religions that are against it.
Written and directed by Zena Igbe, this film really is a heart-breaking look into the lies that people live so that they don’t bring shame upon their families. It truly did crush me, to see something so real, knowing that families feel the need to pull themselves apart because people love someone different to the opposite gender.
The Mother, played by Kemi Lofinmakin, was strong and direct, yet so true to life that I’m sure if people are watching who have been through something similar, they will be hit again by how hard life can be. Parents are meant to care for and love us, not turn us away when we don’t turn out how they want us to. Lofinmakin really played her part well, through emotions and religion, just how real mothers can be.
I liked how the film stayed quite bright and airy, even though the subject got darker as the film progressed. It made me feel that positivity is out there, and things will get better. When the character of Anwar told Efosa that he hadn’t seen his parents in 3 years, but he was happy, we could feel that as Efosa’s future, but knew that it would be bright if he chose to go down that route. With its abrupt ending, I think it rounded off well, showing us how people want to tell their truth, but still live in lies when it comes to sexuality. It really is a shame, but films like this are great at showing an audience what happens behind closed doors and how we don’t know what people are going through individually.
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