My Brother the Devil
Director: Sally El Hosaini
Writer: Sally El Hosaini
Cast: James Floyd, Fady Elsayed, Anthony Welsh, Amira Ghazalla, Nasser Memarzia, Aymen Hamdouchi, Arnold Oceng, Saïd Taghmaoui
[I was sent a screener of this film, you can catch it on iTunes.]
Mo (Fady Elsayed) adores his big borther Rashid (James Floyd) and follows him wherever he can. But Rashid doesn’t want him along when he’s working because his work isn’t legal at all. Their neighborhood is generally rough and Rashid is in a gang dealing drugs. When Rashid’s best friend and fellow gang member AJ (Arnold Oceng) is killed, Rashid tries to turn his life around – which also means confronting his own sexuality and disillusionment for Mo.
My Brother the Devil was a fantastic film. Thoughtful, touching and beautiful it might not tell the newest story but tells it from an unique point of view.
My Brother the Devil is made up from puzzle peaces that have been there before. The gang member who wants to turn his life around but can’t escape the violence around me. The little brother idolizing the big brother, but then having to learn that the big brother is only human. Those are tropes we’re rather familiar with. But the setting in Hackney is as unusual as the Rashid’s and Mo’s Egyptian background and I did enjoy that a lot.
And even if there had been nothing new about the story at all, it’s a good story and it’s beautifully executed, so there wouldn’t have been anything wrong with that either.
Sally El Hosaini has a good feeling for her characters, for the pacing of the story and she found a great cinematographer in David Raedeker. That gives the film both an enormous sense of realism and a certain levity that saves the film from feeling nothing but heavy all the time. Plus, both James Floyd and Fady Elsayed were great in their roles. They give both Mo and Rashid a lot of life, authenticity and their brotherly chemistry was spot-on and so engaging I probably wouldn’t have minded watching them playing video games together for a couple of hours.
Since you get such a connection to the characters, you’re really drawn into the story and you feel with them for every step of the way. And that makes the film a wonderful experience.
Summarizing: Watch it.