Yilmaz Arslan's hard-edged story of Turks and Kurds on the mean streets of urban Germany veers between moments of sensitive humanism and horrifying brutality. Structured with the clockwork doom of classical tragedy rather than the mere social-realist melodrama one might expect from an immigrant tale, the film plays out within a claustrophobic prison-house logic, as would-be guest workers find longstanding ethnic battles imported from one land to the next. While living in a government hostel for young refugees, Kurdish teenager Azad (Erdal Celik) takes newbie kid Ibo (Xewat Gectan) under his wing; together, both of them eke out a living as backroom barbers. Azad refuses financial assistance from his weaselly older brother Semo (Nurettin Celik), a violent pockmarked pimp whose whore-gotten gelt supports their parents back home. After Semo and Azad confront a pair of thuggish Turkish brothers, the street fight sets off a blood feud between the two clans, with retributions worthy of the grisliest Elizabethan drama. A well-wrought, beautifully lensed but ultimately hopeless tale, Fratricide provides a less than optimistic allegory for the intractability of human conflicts: Even far away and decades later, old wars bring fresh miseries.
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