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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

My Brother the Devil Movie Review

If Sally El Hosain's debut as a writer-director is an accurate indicator of what is to come, it would be smart to pay attention to her career. She is an Egyptian-Welsh woman and her heritage gives her a unique perspective. "My Brother the Devil" presents us with an unusual take on a not unusual type of story.

It's a combination coming-of age and gangster flick that at times reminded me of John Singleton's great "Boyz n the Hood". Instead of focusing on young black gangs in New York, this one focuses on young gangs in England comprised of blacks and teens from the Middle East.

Mo (Fady Elsayed) is the younger brother of Rashid (James Floyd). Rashid is already part of the underworld of drug dealing and turf wars while Mo is still in school and walking the line between the two paths that often confront young men in film and in real life. Of course, Rashid doesn't want his younger brother to choose the life that is already an integral part of his life. Yes, the story is nothing you haven't seen many times before. What makes this one worthwhile is the director's feel for her two leads and two excellent acting performances by Elsayed and Floyd.

What "My Brother the Devil" really exceeds at is fleshing out the wrinkles of what could otherwise easily become a boring, predictable two hours. The relationship between the brothers feels genuine. What they go through as individuals also has the ring of truth at every turn. Because of these factors, everything else about the story is able to flow at an unhurried pace and never feels forced. Major issues are confronted and dealt with an intelligent manner and that is a very refreshing quality, especially in what is essentially a story you have read or seen a hundred times before.

My only complaint, and it is a minor one, is that it takes some time to understand what the characters are saying because of their thick accents (at least to Americans) and the musical score that serves to mask the words a bit early on. I remember feeling the same way a long time ago when I saw "Quadrophenia". And just like in that film, once your ears adjust, it's well worth any problems you might experience in the first twenty minutes. This devil is not a personification of evil. It is about figuring out where you are going.

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