My Brother The Devil Review
Two very different teenage brothers must face their prejudices head on if they are to survive the perils of being young, British Arabs on the streets of gangland London.
For a debut feature film, My Brother The Devil is gripping, engaging, thought provoking and beautifully shot. All the characters and the surrounding situations are believable and as an audience member you can get completely engrossed in what you are watching, which is always a sign of a good film.
Sally El-Hosani picked up the much deserved Best Newcomer Award at the London Film Festival and most certainly is a star director for the future with this film and vision prooving testament to that talent.
My Brother the Devil, takes the audience on a very real journey of discovery for two brothers, Mo and Rashid – played expertly by newcomer Fady Elsayed and James Floyd. The beauty of this film is its self contained aspects. Not venturing much further than its urban council estate setting, the cinematography sheds a hallowed light on what is often depicted in film as a dark, dank and gruesome part of London.
The storyline also takes the film away from its opening generic ‘urban film’ feel and makes a strong social commentary sure to provoke equally strong reactions from audiences. The film is clever without trying to be too clever and Hosani’s passion for the project is obvious. It’s particular interesting to see a young female director tackling such a male focused route.
Although the film provides an interesting twist on the London gang culture genre, the topical and popular subject matter unavoidably brings a certain predictability regardless of budget or plot specifics.
These kinds of films follow a familiar pattern, a violent incident provokes some form of gang rivalry. Audiences will find that this film’s later stages in particular fall prey to being formulaic in a way that distracts from the film’s more original elements. Over hyped-enthusiasm from boastful marketing and word of mouth praise may worsen this feeling of disappointment. It’s ultimately not quite as distinguished from similar films like Victim or Kidulthood as it could have been.
Despite it’s faults My Brother The Devil is still lead strongly by its performances, and may prove to be the stepping stone for much bigger things for Floyd and Elsayed. It is also better than many feature debuts on a shoe string budget, so deserves the majority of praise already garnered.
The Ugly Truth:
Beautifully shot, an unexpected twist on the tale you were expecting, but sadly not far enough away that it stands on its own two feet. Most impressive however, is that My Brother The Devil is yet another shining example of UK talent both in front and behind the camera with praise well deserved.