My Brother the Devil (3 stars)

My Brother the Devil

Occasionally predictable but heartfelt story of London gang culture

A story of the ties that bind and break young men, My Brother the Devil is the heartfelt feature debut of writer-director Sally El Hosaini. It’s a convincing, intermittently powerful portrait of those on the forgotten fringes. My Brother the Devil follows two brothers of Egyptian origin growing up on a housing estate in East London: Rashid (James Floyd) is an established gang member, and Mo (Fady Elsayed) is an earnest young buck who’s yet to tread the criminal path. While Rashid is growing tired of the game and is keen for his younger brother to remain in education, Mo is desperate to make a name for himself on the street.

Set and filmed on location in Hackney, My Brother the Devil uses both established and non-professional actors to skilful, largely seamless effect. Floyd and Elsayed forge a credible sibling dynamic and Letitia Wright, as Mo’s good girl love interest Aisha, is a sweet note of hope. The more established Saïd Taghmaoui (Three Kings) features as former gang member Sayyid, with whom Rashid becomes close. He could well be an older, reformed version of his character from La Haine. My Brother the Devil highlights the difficulty of breaking out of a criminal cycle when a gang is what defines you. It’s a pretty slender story and largely - though not entirely - predictable, but told with feeling. El Hosaini shows sensitivity to character and has a fresh, fluid style which imbues what could’ve been grim reality with optimism.

Showing at London Film Festival 2012, Tue 16, Fri 19 and Sun 21 Oct.

My Brother the Devil (2012) - Official Trailer

My Brother the Devil

  • 3 stars
  • 2012
  • UK
  • 1h 51min
  • 15
  • Directed by: Sally El Hosaini
  • Written by: Sally El Hosaini
  • Cast: James Floyd, Fady Elsayed, Saïd Taghmaoui

Rashid (Floyd) is a gang member growing tired of the lifestyle, while his younger brother Mo (Elsayed) is keen to make name for himself on the street. Filmed on location in Hackney, it’s predictable but credible and heartfelt, and told with a fresh, fluid style.