Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sally El Hosaini's My Brother the Devil ... Growing Up On Hackney's Deadly Streets

My Brother the Devil  (U.K.)

Cineplex Odeon Yonge & Dundas Cinemas, also on iTunes, Facebook and DVD

Written and directed by Sally El Hosaini

Starring James Floyd, Fady Elsayed

Rating 3/5

Two brothers of Egyptian Arabic descent live in Hackney, a rough part of London where gangs are a way of life.  The elder Rash is deep into a gang while his young brother Mo wears a uniform to school where he has good friends and teachers.  He’s fascinated by his brother’s lifestyle.
James Floyd and Fady Elsayed
Rash attempts to protect him from it, but Mo is determined to be part of it.  He admires his brother whom he sees as a hero and the family breadwinner, always able to buy food and slip a few pounds into his mother’s wallet.  

When he witnesses Rash committing a violent or criminal act, it doesn’t strike Mo as especially bad.  Their father knows something fishy is going on but he’s driving a cab and not present much, for either boy.
The straightforward story of the brothers is unnecessarily complicated by red herrings. Two important moments occur when Mo learns something about his brother he can’t tolerate and he meets a conservative Muslim girl who is too naïve to now he’s looking to gang life.
This is a sympathetic portrait of two young men at an important time in their lives, on the cusp of adulthood.  Their journeys take them in surprising and opposing directions, the way they do.  People are always surprising us and that’s life, reflected naturally and organically here.
El Hosaini does an admirable and cinematic job, but she may have thrown out too many distractions.  There is plenty within the central story as they learn that family counts, street life is deadly and love is an answer.   The images of these boys trying to defend themselves and move forward won’t soon go away.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                

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