My Brother the Devil (15)


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The Independent Culture

Sally El Hosaini's debut feature arrives trailing plaudits from the festival circuit that are for the most part quite justified. On first sight it looks set to be another dose of urban malaise, with drugs, guns and gangs running amok.

Raised by devout Egyptian-born parents on a Hackney estate, Mo (Fady Elsayed) idolises older brother Rashid (James Floyd) and hopes to follow in his drug-dealing footsteps.

But just as the film seems locked into a template of corruption and retribution, an unexpected twist finds fraternal loyalty under a different strain.

El Hosaini's architectural eye lifts even the unlovely environs of London E9 to a state of grace, and her camera has a quality of stillness admirable in a young director: she and director of photography David Raedeker have thought hard about the lighting and shooting, and it pays off. It also benefits from two excellent performances from Floyd and Elsayed.