My Brother The Devil: Takes Its Time, But Is Worth The Wait
My Brother the Devil is a visually gorgeous, deliberately paced first feature by Sundance Lab veteran Sally El Hosaini. Although the duration of this well-conceived, emotionally My Brother the Devil is layered film may be a challenge to some, the dramatic impact is well worth the commitment needed to allow this drama to unfold in the best way possible; slowly and with precise measure. This story of cultural conflict and sexual awaking among immigrant teens in the UK offers a refreshing alternative to the usual spring break film. Satisfying and moving, My Brother the Devil will stay with you well into the next season, offering a sumptuous feast that will outlasting any bubble gum, cotton candy fluff the summer block busters may have to offer.
Rashid (James Floyd) and Mo (Fadi Elsayed) are brothers who have grown up in a tough section of one of London’s most ethnically mixed and historically volatile neighborhoods. Although their parents live a traditional Arab lifestyle, the two young men have actively embraced the western culture. Rashid, or “Rash”” is the key player in a local drug gang, while his adoring younger brother hovers on the edge between naïve curiosity and becoming a full-fledged member of the same group. Rash would like to keep his brother away from the street life but after a traumatic event effects the world view of both brothers things get all turned around and life is never the same.
What really distinguishes this film from the usual gangland movie (beyond the deft handling of director El Hosaini) is the exceptional talent of the cast. Elsayed gives a tremendous performance as the younger brother who wants nothing more than to be with, and like his brother. For a first time feature film actor it’s stunning just how subtly expressive his performance is. Elsayed’s portrayal of a young teen on the cusp of the confusing world of drugs, sex and guns is nothing less than visceral. And Floyd stands out as a talent that’s going places with his winning interpretation of a modern and true-to-life gangsta who faces an identity crisis beyond one he could ever imagine. This impressive young actor-to-watch makes the extreme choices that Rash decides upon not only believable but natural. Not an easy feat when you realize just what is happening.
My Brother the Devil opens April 5 at the NuArt in Santa Monica. If you want to see a movie that has meaning and value beyond the 100 plus minutes of entertainment time spent in the dark see My Brother the Devil. It will have a lasting effect on your expectations of movies for some time to come.