Impressions of … My Brother the Devil [Sally El Hosaini]

I confess part of me wanted to dislike this: yet another urban social realist drama – according to the Script Factory, this is now a genre! – this time set in the Egyptian immigrant community; however, the cynical part of me did not triumph: it’s an intelligent, deeply-felt and convincing (mostly) film

the film began as a story of a younger brother wanting to emulate his elder brother and served up the standard tension: will the kid from a housing estate choose to get ahead through crime or hard work? (not much tension because they always choose crime – I suppose it’s then a question of whether they’ll get out again and will anyone they love get hurt), but it got interesting when it slipped imperceptibly to the elder brother Rashid’s point of view

pace was what critics sometimes call ‘measured’, in this case, I’d call it moderate, I got impatient with it – this is a sign I had got ahead of the plot – there was too much of something but I’m not sure what … if I had to push anything out of the window, it would be the scenes with Mo and his chums, the crux of the story had shifted, I wasn’t interested in him anymore and these scenes were not going to change that

one (only one) infelicity struck me: Mo (the younger brother) was sent out of the room when Rashid made his offer, he was conspicuously and intentionally excluded from that knowledge, and yet shortly afterwards he is in possession of it and it becomes vital in Rashid’s rescue, a narrative convenience, but what followed was an impressively edited thriller sequence (the empty shower ploy never seems to age, does it?)

indeed, liked the way it cut early from these big sequences, as soon as the significant story beats had occurred, this was intelligent filmmaking,

an impression punctured by a clunky last scene, guess they must have thought they’d earned it, or the audience wanted it and would give them a free pass, not this audience (me), the first line of dialogue were so blatant and ‘on the nose’, credibility collapsed, and I was reminded this had been no more than dialogue with nice (moving) pictures …

… this is not my definition of a film


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