A Columbia student befriends a homeless old man who used to be Richard Bruce Nugent, a minor figure in the Harlem Renaissance. Soon they’re both hanging out in black-and-white flashbacks with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Wallace Thurman, et al. Young Perry (Anthony Mackie), who was recently kicked out of his house for being gay, quickly identifies with the older artist (Roger Robinson) and his outsider friends, whose zine Fire!! was boycotted by the NAACP and folded after a single issue. First-timer Rodney Evans’s leaden script fails to live up to the poetry of its subjects and raises more themes—black-on-black homophobia, light-skin versus dark-skin prejudice, writers’ envy—than it can fully develop. Not surprising for a film that uses a term paper as a framing device, Brother to Brother feels too much like a school project.

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