My Brother The Devil was written and directed by relative newcomer; Sally El Hosani, although having been involved in the film and TV business this was her first leading activity in a movie, it is to here credit that the end result is an excellent product which deserves to stand tall among other films and movies being produced today. The film revolves around two brothers, the sons of Egyptian immigrants who a growing up on the estates of inner-city London. Older Brother Rashid (James Floyd, The Infidel, 2010) is one of the cool guys who runs with the local gangs, while his younger brother , Mo, (Fady Elsayed, Sixteen, 2013)looks up to his brother with a sense of wonderment and wants to follow in his footsteps. Rashid on the other hand does not want his brother following him, he wants better for his brother.
We see both sons as they look to find their respective places in society. Just as Rashid is trying to get out of the gang related life he is living, as he does this, we see just how little respect these people have for the individual as they happily drag in young Mo to run drugs and other errands . this happens as Rashid is moving away from the gangs and as he does so, meets Sayyid (SaΪd Taghmaoui, The Kite Runner, 2007) with whom, after some initial struggles, Rashid and Sayyid begin a relationship, which ultimately strains the relationship between both brothers. While younger Mo is looking to find his way in life he struggles between the gangs, his more innocent teen friends and his older brother who now has the dark shadow of his sexuality hanging over him.
Both brothers must find their way in life, both must overcome the challenges ahead of them, but more importantly they begin to realise that their chances are better together. There is some subtly direction, the cool gang members are perhaps not as cool as they might seem, are they just the usual “corner-boys”, nothing to live up to or as in the case of Rashid, actually something to grow out of.
This is a debut film, made on a budget with a cast that is only partially professional, if I was inclined to do so, I would find issue with this film and some of the actors in a few places, but the acting from the main characters is all excellent, the story is one which catches us, grabs us by the neck and does not let go until the end. Some people have discussed the impact of Islamic fundamentalism, while other have decried the “toughness2 of the local gang members, there is no Islamic message here, it is simply a story of two boys growing up in their own culture. The brothers just happen to be from an Egyptian background, as and for the gang members not being overly hard; well it is Hackney not LA, what we see are kids growing up trying to be hard, a different thing. The movie has been compared to My Beautiful Laundrette (1985) and I can see that, it might also stand comparison to Beautiful Thing (1996).
This is not a depressing film, rather it is engaging, sharply photographed and lean form a story telling perspective seek out the DVD or see if your service streams it.