Siblings are notorious for checking out who got the biggest piece of cake. In My Brother the Devil, directed by Sally El Hosaini, there’s more than dessert at stake between two young adult Egyptian brothers who live with their aging parents in London’s Hackney, an edgy ethnic and cultural hodgepodge.
Rashid (James Floyd), the handsome older brother, is a member of local branch of a criminal gang DMG – Drugs, Money, Guns. He wants his studious younger brother Mo (Fadi Elsayed) to keep on the academic track and bypass the Pluto-like world he’s navigating. Mo, however, envies Rash’s proverbial slice of cake and wants his own share of what he perceives as power and recognition. But, in his first attempt to maneuver in Rash’s world – a simple drug drop off – Mo gets robbed, putting even more pressure on older brother to keep him safe. A violent death also has a devastating effect on Rash who’s forced to evaluate his own life choices.
Rash is buoyed up by Sayyid (Said Taghmaoui), a photographer who successfully cut ties with his own youthful underworld escapades and who gives Rash a job. In the process, Rash discovers a personal side to himself that radically changes Mo who feels betrayed and, in Pluto fashion, vengeful. However, in trying to abandon his criminal ways, Rash also incurs the wrath of the gang which has, no surprise, installed the eager Mo.
Plutonic control and retaliation – which gangs are good at wielding – are the main archetypal focus here. Those traits are played out externally by the gang towards Rash, and internally by Mo towards his brother. And, as if the point needed to be further hammered home, the underworld head of the gang is named Demon.
Rash’s inherent goodness is never doubted. From the start, we see him slipping gang money into his mother’s purse for living expenses (and, later in the movie, Mo does the same). But, as My Brother the Devil demonstrates, filthy lucre is a high price to pay. As Rash says, on seeing Mo drunk – intoxicated by a trip to the local underworld – “This is how it starts.”
Astrology Film Rating: ♇ (Pluto)