Film Review: ‘My Brother the Devil’

James Floy and Fady Elsayed play Egyptian siblings in London in "My Brother the Devil," in theaters now Credit: Paladin
James Floy and Fady Elsayed play Egyptian siblings in London in “My Brother the Devil,” in theaters now
Credit: Paladin

‘My Brother the Devil’
Director: Sally El Hosaini
Stars: James Floyd, Fady Elsayed
Rating: NR
3 (out of 5) Globes

“My Brother the Devil” flirts with cliché but puts just enough of its own spin on its chosen genre to avoid settling completely for received wisdom. It evokes ‘90s films about poor African-Americans like “Boyz N The Hood” and “Menace II Society,” as well as French “banlieue” films like “La Haine,” with which it shares one actor. That latter point makes one wonder why films about immigrants so often proceed directly to gangs and drugs, although “My Brother the Devil” eventually shows the full diversity of London’s Muslim community, from a middle-class French photographer to a strictly observant teenage girl who wears a hijab and avoids alcohol, tobacco and pork. In its second half, “My Brother the Devil” sends one of its characters into a gay relationship, something that would never happen in a film like “Menace II Society.” For this unexpected twist it winds up all the stronger.

Mo (Fady Elsayed) lives with his older brother Rashid (James Floyd) in a housing project in Hackney, a neighborhood of London. Their parents emigrated from Egypt. (Director Sally El Hosaini is of Welsh and Egyptian descent herself.) Rashid is a member of the gang DMG (Drugs, Money, Gangs.) Mo admires Rashid, but the older brother wants his sibling to go to college and avoid a life of crime. He’s saving his money from drug deals to pay for Mo’s education. Mo gets involved with crime anyway, but he fails the test, getting mugged for his sneakers at knifepoint on a drug delivery.

How many films have we seen about hitmen on one last mission, or criminals of other stripes looking for redemption? Rashid fits a familiar mold. If he breaks free of it, then much of the credit is due to James Floyd’s steely performance. His disenchantment with thug life comes to a head when a fellow gang member is killed. From that moment, his determination to make a better life for himself and Mo is palpable in his eyes. Floyd’s gaze is haunting.

The film’s context may be instantly familiar, but it’s also quite local, grounded in thick British accents, obscure slang and the constant pulse of UK hip-hop. At the same time, the narrative’s twists accurately reflect the way that being gay can put a curve in life plans that have been designed by others. “My Brother the Devil” offers something simultaneously, paradoxically rehashed and fresh.


News
Entertainment
Sports
Lifestyle
Local

Hate crime charge in attack on Sikh Columbia…

A man has been arrested and charged with a hate crime after he allegedly pulled the beard of a Sikh Columbia University professor as part…

Local

NYPD arrest man after finding body inside plastic…

Police said they found a man stuffed inside a plastic container in a Brooklyn home. Authorities arrested Joshua Simser, 24, in connection to the death

Local

Queens pub offers 'Munchathon' 4/20 menu

New York doesn't permit recreational marijuana usage — at least not yet — but that hasn't stopped one Queens bar from getting into the spirit…

Local

Borough prez Eric Adams defends Brooklyn's honor after…

"F--k Brooklyn," shouted Toronto Raptors' general manager Masai Ujiri shortly before facing the Brooklyn Nets at Saturday's playoff game.

Television

Discovery cancels 'Everest Jump Live' special in wake…

The Discovery Channel has indicated it will not be moving forward with "Everest Jump Live," a planned special about mountain climber Joby Ogwyn's effort to…

The Word

'X-Men' director Bryan Singer drama continues

  News broke late last week that "X-Men" and "The Usual Suspects" director Bryan Singer is being sued by a man who said Singer molested…

The Word

Miley Cyrus cancels more dates, tweeting from hospital

Miley Cyrus is reportedly so sick that she's had to postpone more tour dates. We know this because she has been sitting in a hospital…

Music

Loop are, er, um, back in the loop

Experimental noise rock band Loop's three mid-1980s to early-1990s albums, “Heavens End,” “Fade Out” and “A Gilded Eternity,” were mercifully reissued.

NHL

Rangers blow two-goal lead in Game 2 loss…

The Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead in Game 2 and the Garden was rocking. But it went downhill quickly from there.

NBA

Deron Williams leads Nets over Raptors in Game…

The Nets traveled to a raucous Air Canada Centre but came out with an important Game 1 victory over the Raptors.

NBA

Carmelo Anthony agonizing over Knicks future as season…

There’s still the cloud hanging over the franchise’s head as to the pending free-agent status of All-Star forward Carmelo Anthony.

NFL

Jets host players with eye toward NFL Draft

The Jets hosted a number of NFL Draft hopefuls for workouts on Thursday, with an eye toward some under-the-radar players.

Travel

Packing: The one thing you need in your…

A new survey that looks at the travel habits of 50,000 people around the world has revealed that Western and Asian globetrotters have different priorities…

Home

Is your chair making it hard to talk?

Ever wished there was an office chair that could make impromptu meetings and discussions more private? The Cristiana Wing Chair is an asymmetrical armchair which…

Travel

Live large at these luxury hotels

From Thai boxing lessons and macabre Dracula tours to the Australian Outback, the Four Seasons hotel chain launched a series of new travel packages this…

Parenting

4 things that every summer camp should have

Alan Saltz, director of the 92nd street Y program lists things that every summer camp should have.