Jazz, film, and improvised culture.
My Brother the Devil: Fraternal Ties that Bind
engages in all sorts of activities at odds with his Islamic faith. He drinks, deals drugs, and beds girls in his
housing estate. Yet, his younger brother
Mo idolizes him for it all. However,
when “Rash” finally gets in touch with his true nature, his sibling turns
against him hard in Sally El Hosaini’s My
Brother the Devil (trailer
opens tomorrow in New York.
is a small time Hackney gangster with a growing rep. To Mo, that is very cool. To his credit though, Rash is dead set
against his little brother following in his footsteps. On this much he agrees with their traditional
Egyptian immigrant parents. When Rash
takes over the route of his late running mate, he starts making regular
deliveries to Sayyid, a successful hipster photographer. Feeling a connection,
Sayyid makes a pass at Rash, who initially reacts rather badly. However, he soon returns.
there is a lot of outside drama going on just as Rash starts wrestling with his
sexuality. His gang is dead-set on retribution
and they want Rash to do the dirty work.
Yet, when Mo discovers Rash’s secret, matters really come to a head.
trenchant social observer, El Hosaini attributes Mo’s homophobic freak-out both
to his Muslim upbringing and the macho prejudices of the thug life he aspires
to join. It is chillingly telling when
he finds it easier to claim Rash has become a terrorist than admit to his
friends his brother might be gay.
Hosaini coaxes some completely natural feeling performances from her mostly
neophyte cast. James Floyd is
particularly dynamic and forceful as Rash.
Yet, one wishes she had been a bit more adventurous in her approach to
the material. One can hear echoes of Boyz n the Hood and subsequent urban
dramas throughout the film, most definitely including the omnipresent rap
soundtrack. Granted, the British import
is coming from a similar socio-economic place, but there is still a formulaic
predictability to her fraternal morality play.
El Hosaini’s consistent honesty is commendable.
Devil never alibis or walks
back the prejudice it depicts, implying these are deeply held sentiments in
Rash’s community, rather than the manifestation of inadequate youth programs.
viewers will probably know where Devil is
headed each step of the way. Yet, the
unromanticized portrait of urban violence and intolerance is relatively fresh
and forthright. Bolstered by Floyd’s
bold performance, My Brother the Devil is
worth considering for those whose tastes run towards gritty social issue
dramas. It opens tomorrow (3/22) in New
York at the Landmark Sunshine.
Labels: British Cinema