My Brother The Devil (15)

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The ViewLondon Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/11/2012

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 111 mins

Impressively directed, sharply observed British drama with a provocative, thought-provoking script and a pair of terrific performances from James Floyd and Fady Elsayed.

What's it all about?
Written and directed by Sally El Hosaini, My Brother The Devil is set in present-day Hackney and stars James Floyd as teenage drug-dealer Rash, who lives with his Egyptian parents and his idolising younger brother Mo (Fady Elsayed). Rash is determined to keep Mo from joining the street gang he runs with, but becomes increasingly concerned when Mo starts drifting towards rival gang leader Repo (Aymen Hamdouchi).

After a violent incident involving his best friend Izzi (Anthony Welsh), Rash decides to leave the gang and accepts a job with French-Arabic photographer Sayyid (Said Taghmaoui), one of his regular drug customers. However, Rash's gang don't take kindly to his decision and things get considerably worse when Mo uncovers a secret about his brother that shocks and disgusts him.

The Good
James Floyd is terrific as Rash, delivering a charismatic, emotionally engaging and impressively understated performance that could easily land him a BAFTA nomination for Best Actor. Newcomer Fady Elsayed is equally good as Mo and it's fascinating to observe both characters interacting differently with various people, particularly Rash's girlfriend Vanessa (Elarica Gallacher), the various gang members and Mo's own little gang of school friends, though Mo's friend Bobo (a scene-stealing Denzel Assiamah) is woefully underused.

Despite the seemingly over-familiar storyline, El Hosaini resists the usual trappings of British gang culture films, thanks to stylish direction and a sharply observed script. It's also impressively shot, courtesy of David Raedeker's stylish cinematography, and the violent scenes are extremely well handled; a horrific street encounter, for example, feels much more sickeningly realistic than most equivalent scenes in similar dramas.

The Great
El Hosaini's script explores some intriguing and thought-provoking ideas; it's telling, for example, that the nature of Rash's secret is so shocking to Mo that he prefers to denounce his beloved brother to his friends as a terrorist rather than admit the truth. On top of that, there's a superb score and El Hosaini maintains a nail-bitingly tense atmosphere throughout as we're increasingly concerned for the fates of both brothers.

Worth seeing?
My Brother The Devil is a well made, powerfully engaging and superbly acted drama that marks writer/director Sally El Hosaini out as a future British talent to watch. Recommended.

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Content updated: 18/09/2018 21:53

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