What is Witty Watching?

Brother – TIFF Movie Review
October 1, 2022

It seems fitting to have Clement Virgo debut a film at the Toronto International Film Festival. After all, the majority, if not all, of his projects have debuted at TIFF. In Brother he has adapted the novel from David Chariandy and brought it to the screen.

This film introduces us to Francis and Michael, who are brothers. Francis is confident, looks like he never misses a day at the gym, and no one wants to mess with him while his brother is a little more timid and unsure of himself.

This film takes us on a journey through the lives of these two men at different stages of their lives.

They are being raised by their single mother who is very hard working. We see that she makes many sacrifices for the benefit of her children.  She takes on many night shifts as it pays more, and they need the money. This family lives by modest means and it is more important for them to have food on the table than Christmas gifts.

Francis, at times, seems to be short-tempered while Michael is calmer. The boys live in Scarborough and the Toronto suburb is also a character in the film. Virgo has crafted this film as a love letter to Scarborough and doesn’t shy away from making that a character in the film.

Pierre is great in this role and his performance as Francis is outstanding. His character is thrust into the position of patriarch and must help out with the home and be a leader and father figure to his younger brother. Francis has dreams and aspirations of his own which include pursuing a career as a DJ.  He is a strong force as a character and Pierre delivers some great work in this role.

This film feels very authentic as it encapsulates the experience of living in a setting where gunshots going off outside the apartment aren’t uncommon but having a family that not only expects you but needs you to sidestep that world and succeed is vital.

The film also captures so many aspects of adolescence. Fitting in, first crushes, bullying, etc. Virgo has his finger on the pulse of these milestones and depicts them so well.

Many filmmakers have influences and looking at this film I am confident that Barry Jenkins was a source of motivation for Virgo but that being said, he has his own style.

Watching Brother I felt as if I was taking in an instant classic.

This is a very strong film. The cinematography is great, the music and score perfectly set the tone and the performances are incredible.

Brother didn’t come with a lot of fanfare and has been somewhat under the radar but it’s definitely a film that needs to be seen and appreciated. Virgo, like the proverbial fine wine, is getting better and better.

Grade: B+

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