Simultaneously burying and rejuvenating a dying genre, My Brother The Devil has done for languid London gangster films what Daniel Craig did for Bond. Measured, grubby, brutal as hell, Sally El Hosaini’s city-set drama knows that it’s playing in the same paddling pool as dross like Adulthood, and it isn’t afraid to stick up a finger as it strides off into tantalising new territory.
There’s a lot at stake in My Brother The Devil. Rashid (James Floyd) is a British Arab who’s spent his days prowling Hackney with a gang of equally direction-less youths. Just as Rashid decides he wants out, though, younger brother Mo (Fady Elsayed) is nosing his way into that same flick-knife world of drugs, cold cash and doomed trysts.
It sounds like exactly the kind of film that MBTD wants to distance itself from, and that’s what makes it pop. A firecracker of a mid-point twist sets up an unexpected number of challenges for audiences and characters. Meanwhile, the performances are riveting, intense but never earnest. Plan B may have created a blistering edict on London life with his film iLL Manors, but Hosaini (who won Best British Newcomer at the London Film Festival) has a more reliable voice. My Brother The Devil paints a portrait of London that’s as unforgiving and realistic as you’re ever likely to see. 4/5
Via Grolsch Film Works