My Brother the Devil hits Berlin
by Boyd van Hoeij
Older brother Rashid (James Floyd), whom everyone calls 'Rash', is clearly admired by younger sibling Mo (Fady Elsayed), short for Mohammed. They live in flat in Hackney with their parents that is so small that they have a bunk bed in their shared room.
Rash is involved with a gang for which he delivers drugs. When Rash's friend Izzi (Anthony Welsh) is killed in a violent clash that is part of an ongoing feud with a rival gang, his first impulse is to plan a hit on the leader of the other gang but his first attempt to simply walk up to his enemy and shoot him goes wrong.
A subsequent and very intense friendship with Said (Saïd Taghmaoui), a photographer who is also of Egyptian origin but stands outside of the violent world of gangs, makes Rash change his ways. But since Rash has stopped delivering for the gang, his little brother has taken up his role there, which is something Rash wanted to prevent happening.
With two well-acted leads, streetwise dialogue and a smart screenplay, first-time writer-director El Hosaini shows the complex dynamics between two brothers, with the younger one wanting to emulate the older sibling but the older and, because of experience, wiser, one hoping he can prevent his brother from making the same mistakes.
Complicating matters is the fact that, after an initial shock, Said and Rash become lovers as well as friends. Hosaini places this difficult subject for Muslim communities in the perspective of a diverse religious community that seems to pick-and-choose which elements of their religion they decide to follow and which prohibitions (alcohol, pork, drugs, sex) they respect or ignore.
The impressive finale has Mo choose between the love for his brother and his disgust for homosexuality, which he thinks is a sin worse than terrorism.
The film was produced by Wild Horses Film Company and Rooks Nest Entertainment, both from London, in co-production with Cairo-based Film Clinic. International sales are handled by Pacha Pictures in Paris.