First came ‘Kidulthood’, and then ‘Adulthood’. Now Noel Clarke has presented the last part of his trilogy, out this month on DVD – ‘Brotherhood’. Following on from the last two films, Sam Peel (played by Noel Clarke, who also directs) is starting to feel like everything’s back on track again, although he can’t quite shake his past. After his younger brother Royston (Daniel Anthony) is shot during a gig and a mysterious note is given to him, Sam realises that his past has indeed come back to haunt him, but now he has his whole family to protect.
As with the other two films, ‘Brotherhood’ is again an explicit and harsh take on life within East London. Clarke’s filmmaking is very blunt and unreserved, with no subtlety or symbolism. Instead, the story is almost thrown into our faces – it’s hard to watch at times, but he makes his point well. There are moments of calm amidst the brutality and these are really powerful at points, but you’ll still feel on edge.
Sound is really important throughout the film; it’s used cleverly, and adds even more tension and foreboding to already edgy situations. Muted scenes help us to experience the pain that Sam is feeling as he hits rock-bottom. There’s a sense of maturity here that wasn’t so present in the last two films, and it’s really this that stands out for the viewer.
The characters are quite relatable even if you’re not used to this scene, and I found it easy to connect emotionally with the storyline. There’s great acting from both new characters and returning ones, and the tension between characters such as Daley (Jason Maza) and Hugz (Leeshon Alexander) is riveting to watch. On the thug side there are characters like the foul-mouthed yet clearly intelligent Poppy (Rosa Coduri), for whom you can’t help but hope that they can move onto a better life.
One of my favourite characters was Henry (Arnold Oceng) – Sam’s friend and reluctant getaway driver who makes jewellery with his wife and drives a Toyota Prius. He’s a stark example of how times have changed since that fateful event in ‘Kidulthood’, and brings a lot of humour to the film with his out of date and simply embarrassing phrases (“Back it up before I heat it up!”).
Among the scatters of humour we’ve still got the underpinning barbarity of everything that’s going on – there’s gunfight, misogyny, blades in faces, and a rather interesting fight scene involving a nail gun (and an unfortunate recipient). Clarke certainly doesn’t hold back, and leaves us with an important message at the end. Maybe it’s not quite as impactful as the other two films, but despite a few clichés and perhaps not the best portrayal of women in general (it seems you can either be a doting and forgiving housewife or a nonchalant prostitute in this world) it’s grippingly complex and a good end to the trilogy. 3/5
Brotherhood at CeX
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