The ever-growing genre of East End crime films gets a worthwhile addition in Sally El Hosaini’s feature debut, “My Brother the Devil,” about the tribulations of two sons of an immigrant bus driver who become involved with drug gangs on the mean streets of London’s Hackney district.
Though not without flaws, the film is a reasonably polished effort.
The British-born offspring of traditional Egyptian parents, teenager Mo (Fady Elsayed) is a decent fellow with his sights set on college, while the older brother he admires, Rashid (James Floyd), is a boxer and member of a drug-dealing gang that’s a multicultural melting pot.
The story sets the two on opposite tracks, with Rashid pulling away from “the life” as Mo not only gets into it but digs himself deeper. Though he’s generally discouraged his brother from criminal undertakings, Rashid makes the mistake of giving Mo a simple drug-running job. Of course it goes awry.
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Despite his illegal activities, Rashid isn’t a bad sort — he slips cash into his mother’s purse and vows to pay for his brother’s schooling. Now he wants out
The filmmaker, who grew up in Cairo and lives in Hackney, knows the area and the brothers’ culture. She gets very good performances out of the main actors, particularly Elsayed, whose love for his sibling
, bordering on hero worship,
Despite a few gangster movie clichés and unconvincing incidents, “My Brother the Devil” marks El Hosaini as a director worth following.