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  • Jennifer Green

Review: "Brotherly Love"

This 2015 film is a smooth, well-acted, and emotionally moving story. Brotherly Love shows how a cycle of poverty and violence (the characters' neighborhood is described as "at war") can sidetrack the lives of even the most promising young people. The film has earned comparisons to Boyz n the Hood. "The hood has a way of knocking you off your square," says one wise older character.

Brotherly Love is about a specific place, but it functions as a character drama, with the real focus not on what happens on the streets but rather how it impacts individuals, families, and communities. Palmer's voiceover, set at the start to R&B in the background, creates an intimate tone for the story, putting the viewer there with her.

Despite their surroundings, the teenage characters in the film still have a certain innocence about them -- they just want to live their lives, go to school, have crushes, explore their potential, and grow up. You want this for them, and the tension in the film comes from the fear that something will stop them, including their own actions.

Palmer and Hill were great casting choices to embody the teen twins playing at being tough, having faced too much trauma for their age, but also still just kids. It would have been good to include more scenes of them training, to show the "hard work" they've both supposedly put into their talents.

Hardrict portrays June as necessarily hardened -- he was a kid just yesterday, too -- but also vulnerable, with a conscience, and pinning his hopes on his talented brother to lift the whole family up. Gray's small role as the haggard mom is memorable.


Read the full review at Common Sense Media.

Images courtesy of Netflix.


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