Sunday, October 28, 2012

My Brother The Devil

My Brother the Devil is a 2012 British film written and directed by Sally El Hosaini. It has won multiple awards, including at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and at the 2012 Berlin International Film Festival. It stars James Floyd, Fady Elsayed and Saïd Taghmaoui. It tells the story of two sons of Egyptian immigrants coming of age in East London. It is released in UK on November 9th 2012, then in US cinemas 2013, and other territories globally.
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Writes Simon Kinnear in Total Film: La Haine has been ram-raided by urban Brit flicks for so long it’s apt to finally see one of the French film’s stars, Saïd Taghmaoui, in the East London ’hood. Yet it’s a mark of writer/director Sally El Hosaini’s ambition that Taghmaoui isn’t criminal or terrorist here but something more radical: a nice guy. The only British film in competition at Sundance Festival 2012 - a winner, for its lyrical cinematography - El Hosaini’s debut follows two first generation Anglo-Egyptian siblings.

Rash (James Floyd) is the respected dealer whose ambivalence about his lifestyle leads him to Taghmaoui’s ex-gangster; Mo (Fady Elsayed) is the student who’d prefer to follow in his bro’s designer shoes. What distinguishes My Brother The Devil is El Hosaini’s maturity in avoiding faux-doc grittiness, political grandstanding or flashy glorification in favour of an intimate, closely observed character piece. The languid first half emphasises the brothers’ environment over plot beats; for all the inevitable knife fights and drug deals, it’s the quieter moments that register, and Floyd and Elsayed respond with affecting performances. El Hosaini captures everything in a swooning, summery style that gives no hint she was shooting while riots ripped apart the capital last August.

And then El Hosaini detonates a bombshell that proves both the film’s masterstroke and very nearly its downfall.
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