Wednesday, June 27, 2012

My Brother the Devil

My Brother the Devil, dir. Sally El Hosaini, 2012, UK, 111 min. 
Friday 6/15, 4:00 @ Castro, MYBR15C

Mo (Fady Elsayed, left) and Rash
(James Floyd) in My Brother the Devil
Being a teenager is never easy, but all the more so for a teen straddling two worlds that do not so much mesh as coexist in uneasy juxtaposition. Mohammed (age 14, played by Fady Elsayed) and Rashid (age 19, James Floyd) are the sons of Egyptian immigrants living in council houses (tenements) in the Northeast London borough of Hackney. Rashid is in a gang, working as a low-level delivery boy, dropping off “food” (marijuana), but he hopes for Mo to find a better path. Mo gets drawn into the gang just as Rash finds a connection with a photographer named Sayyid (Saïd Taghmaoui), but Mo freaks out when he discovers that Rash and Sayyid are more than just coworkers. The gang finds out and immediately tries to kill Rash to protect their sense of honour, leaving Mo caught in the middle.

First, a couple of cautions. The dialogue is in English with a little bit of Arabic, with no subtitles. American audiences may find the heavy accent challenging in a few scenes, although fans of British television should be able to muddle through, or hopefully have the option to turn on subtitles on the DVD. Second, there is some graphic violence, although less than you might expect from a story involving gangs. With that said, though, My Brother the Devil is an engaging coming-of-age tale, well told, with fine performances by all the principal cast. It’s also a very different side of London from the usual West End fare. Highly recommended.

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