Wednesday, 20 March 2013

REVIEW - MY BROTHER THE DEVIL


An energetic debut from British writer-director Sally El Hosaini, infused with a strong cultural spirit, but its surefootedness wanes as the plot takes a few too many detours. El Hosaini has a keen eye – she’s at her strongest when implying, suggesting, letting our minds fill in the gaps, whether consciously or not. Even if the richness of an apparently throwaway line of dialogue or momentary glance is lost on a less attentive viewer, the resonance of such details lingers, and comes to influence and explain later events. Her directorial trickery is occasionally a bit ham-fisted, but she has a flair for imbuing shots with a bracing vibrancy, with sensitive, unexpected framing. As the narrative takes turn after turn, one’s confidence in the ingenuousness of the story begins to ebb; at times, things seem plausible, and, more importantly, apt for bringing to attention those matters of the mind which the two leads daren’t express outwardly out of fear. At other times, El Hosaini succumbs to melodrama, and produces plot developments which don’t serve any honest purpose. I appreciate that some films make more sense back to front – that, if one works from the end, one can understand why the writer had to take a specific route in order to make their point succinctly and successfully. But My Brother the Devil’s point has been made even before it starts connecting a few too many dots, and also drawing a few more itself. But this is an engrossing watch nonetheless, due in large part to the superb performances by James Floyd and Fady Elsayed, who deliver all that is required of them and then some.