Up and coming director Ryan Bonder storms onto ours screen with latest British crime thriller, The Brother. Starring, the almighty talented Anthony Head as an early onset dementia sufferer and gangster of a father named Jack; Bonder provides us with a brutal, yet endearingly sweet drug infused drama. As one hell of a family feud unleashes itself, it’s down to son Adam to fix it, yet all he really wants to do is be rid of this disease that has plagued most of his adult life.
Interestingly Bonder was born deaf. Yes, that’s right, a filmmaker who can’t hear his crew and can’t hear his actors deliver their lines. It makes you think how on earth his work ever comes together – but somehow it does. Taking this into consideration from the outset, The Brother is a worthy piece of artistry. Although, the genre clash that Bonder chooses to adopt here works to some extent but perhaps toning it down slightly would have allowed the brutality or indeed the sweetness to emerge fully.
Adam is hiding behind the cloakroom of the Tate Modern, which allows him to pay for his quirky little apartment that he decides to fill with leftover crisp packets and paper turned into various origami birds. Perhaps this was just something Tygh Runyan did on set one day and Bonder though yeah, let’s stick it in, even though it doesn’t have any relevance – but we will probably never know. Haunted by his troubled past, this man seems to be making a new life for himself until his autistic brother, Eli (Jed Rees) turns up and he accidentally sleeps with old flame, come gang girlfriend Tabitha (Belinda Stewart-Wilson). In a previous life, the family business of arms smuggling consumed him, not to mention his father’s life Jack (Anthony Head) who spent the last 18 months in a Colombian prison. Uncle, and ruthless man Reuben manages to pull some strings to see Jack walk free, albeit everything has its price and no one will rest until the debt is paid.
As always, Anthony Head is as talented as ever. In a large percentage of people’s mind, this man will always be Giles or Repo Man: Images that are hard to shake from one’s head, but just like any great actor, Head transforms himself into the hard-man and forgetful bumbling fool that his character is. Whilst the supporting cast held their own, for the most part the lines are delivered in a forceful manner, being described as only thug-like, tough guy language that despite such profanities holds virtually no weight and certainly no threat to those residing in this universe. Language used, it seems, in order for this to plod along and reach its inevitable climax.
Some satisfaction will emerge for viewers residing in London, seeing places they recognize, although never fully utilised in conjunction with the narrative. The plot, is somewhat adaptable, and could have easily been shot anywhere in the world. Why London? Why Southbank? Or was this simply another clichéd attempt at making a London-set gangster flick?
Bonder has promise in his work, there’s no doubt about that. The Brother, brings a distinct Indie feel, whilst insanely violent and at times unnecessary scenes cloud what could have been a clever film.
The Brother is out now!