Starring: Lamar Johnson, Aaron Pierre, Marsha Stephanie Blake, Kiana Madeira, Lovell Adams-Gray
Director: Clement Virgo
Brother, a story about the importance of family and community, is not without its flaws. As someone who grew up near Scarborough, the essence of the city isn’t quite captured, and director Clement Virgo's reliance on timeline-jumping and ambiguity causes the film to drag. Although Lamar Johnson and Aaron Pierre give solid performances, it’s Kiana Madeira who brings the humanity this film needed more of. The main thing this feature has going for it is the cinematography, though. The outdoor shots especially are among the nicest I saw at TIFF. Brother isn’t a lost cause, but it’s bound to be forgotten by year's end.
When director Martin Scorcese talks about “cinema,” I imagine Brother is the type of film he is talking about. Though the narrative can be a bit wonky at times, it’s a slice of life story that feels earnest in its depiction of the dangers of some urban neighborhoods. The film is paced in such a way that you get to spend a lot of time with the characters in order to truly know them, sitting in a pensive silence with them often. Again, the film is not without its flaws, but I can strongly say it’s a masterfully crafted piece of cinema
With Brother, director Clement Virgo demonstrates a masterful hold on editing and visual narration. He makes non-linear storytelling feel linear, and it’s a really intriguing way to showcase a beautifully sorrowful story. A story that, while engrossing, never feels like it really digs as deep as it should. The circuitous screenplay ends up being simultaneously its biggest strength and its biggest hindrance, creating staccato dialogue that makes scenes feel cut short. Though many of its aspects are exceptional, Brother’s powerful themes and delivery still made me feel there was more left to explore.
This film was reviewed by Nick as part of Bitesize Breakdown's coverage of the 2022 Toronto International Film Festival.