Sally El Hosaini’s coming of age/gang flick tells the story of two Egyptian Londoners growing up in a corner of the city where drugs and gangs are a part every day life.
Younger brother Mo (Fady Elsayed) wants to be like drug dealing brother Rashid (James Floyd) until he discovers that his hard man and previously straight sibling is in a relationship with another man.
While Rashid tries to extradite himself from the gang and ensure there are no reprisals on his family, Mo is worming his way into the gang and spilling the beans on his brother’s newfound homosexuality.
The film has picked up awards at the 2012 Sundance Film Festival and 2012 Berlin International Film Festival but I found it an underwhelming experience.
The theme of gay gang members and the intolerance of their one-time running mates was told to better effect in 2009’s Shank.
My Brother The Devil lacks any of the rawness and sense of danger that the earlier film exhibits, and is also let down by a nonsensical ending that requires spoilers to explain.
The gang decide to kill Rashid, but manage instead to shoot Mo. Some days later Rashid calmly walks back onto the estate where his family lives, sits in the open with his brother and swaps a few cliches.
Why do the gang not appear and carry out their planned shooting? The film doesn’t bother to tell us. There’s no suggestion the cops have rounded them up, yet their prime target is able to walk unharmed on an estate they previously knew everything that happened on. It doesn’t make any sense.
Vague and unclear ending aside, the film is fine without being anything extraordinary. The London gang thing has been done so many times that there’s nothing here you haven’t seen before.
Our verdict: 3/5
My Brother The Devil is showing as part of the 56th BFI London Film Festival. Visit bfi.org.uk/lff for screening details and booking info.