Brother Jakob


Reviewed by: Amber Wilkinson

Brother Jakob
"His wife proves much more interesting than him."

There is no shortage of people in the world who spend their lives looking for answers and this documentary shines a spotlight on two of them. One, is the film's subject, Jakob, a young man who, is searching for the 'right' religious path, having embraced Islam. The other, is the director, Jakob's brother Eli Roland Sachs, who is on his own quest to understand his brother's motives.

This is an intensely personal film, as Eli questions Jakob on the shifting nature of his faith, which at one point was so ardent his attempts to convert younger members of the family to it caused a rift. There's no doubting the sincerity of his pursuit, although what emerges is a portrait of a man who seems partially oblivious to the sacrifices others around him are making so he can pursue what he believes is the 'one true path'.

Copy picture

His wife proves much more interesting than him, at one point wearing a niqab, and talking about the way it marks her out. She's also seen talking to family, almost on the verge of tears as she says she thinks she would fit in more easily if her niqab was blue instead of black. The stress bristles from her, while Jakob appears largely unaware. What holds the attention, is not Jakob's espousal of faith - which emerges as a shifting allegiance in search of an absolute that may well not exist - but the bond between the brothers as they start to reconnect.

There's a lack of background to this, too, hints of a previous life that was altogether different from the one that Jakob is embarked on at the start of the film, while there's no real sense of his wife's motivations either. What remains after the film finishes is a sense of a story unfinished, steeped in melancholy.

Reviewed on: 07 Aug 2017
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Brother Jakob packshot
Story of the filmmaker's journey to understand his brother's conversion to Islam.

Director: Eli Roland Sachs

Writer: Eli Roland Sachs

Year: 2016

Runtime: 92 minutes

Country: Germany


EIFF 2017

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