Go Buy a Ticket for My Brother the Devil


Look, before we venture into what could be considered spoiler territory, let’s just say this: My Brother the Devil, Sally El Hosaini’s debut feature, is a tender, bracing fraternal drama of London’s gang life, the immigrant experience, and questions no smaller than what “manhood” might mean to young men whose traditional cultures are colliding with the worst—and the best—of the secular west. Despite its moral seriousness, the film’s a crowd-pleaser, boasting tense set pieces, a raucous polyglot of voices and accents, beauty-in-poverty streetscapes, and two warm, brawling, big-hearted leads: James Floyd as Rashid, a promising young thug who slips much of the money he scores peddling coke into his mother’s purse, and Fadi Elsayed as Mo, the beanpole younger brother who at first seems the character whose perspective is shared by the title—his criminal brother might be the devil. But then, halfway through, comes the turn, a superlative twist that you might not want to know about. (So, seriously, if you’re inclined to see this already, quit reading and go buy a ticket.) Forced to assassinate a rival, Rashid suffers a failure of nerve, realizing that killing isn’t for him; his subsequent attempt to go straight gets complicated by the from-nowhere feelings that flower between him and another man, and the revelation that he isn’t straight at all. Nice kid Mo, meanwhile, is taking to the gang life himself, and in aping the tough-guy affect of the streets is of course outraged when he discovers Rashid’s new secret life. Again and again, you may ask: “Which brother is the devil?” And: “How quickly can we get a follow-up from director El Hosaini?”