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Writer-director Hosaini’s first feature draws on her Anglo-Egyptian roots to build a gripping and entirely credible portrait of gangland life on a Hackney council estate. Second-generation Egyptian Rashid (Floyd) is entrenched in low-level drug dealing but anxious to prevent his impressionable younger brother Mo (Elsayed) from following suit.
When one of the gang members is killed in a stand-off with a rival outfit, everything changes. Eventually the brothers’ roles are reversed, and Rashid must confront his sexual and religious doubts. Hosaini adroitly presents the subtext of inner-city despair in a quasi-documentary style, without stereotyping or sentimentality.
The actors – especially Floyd, and Taghmaoui (THE KITE RUNNER) as a peripherally involved professional photographer – are entirely believable, and MY BROTHER THE DEVIL richly deserved its Sundance and Berlin successes.