Brotherhood

****1/2

Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode

Brotherhood
"The seeming remoteness of the military actions - and their immediate impact on civilians - becomes less abstract when paralleled by the tensions within the family."

Freckles, red hair - they're features that mark out people in the most isolated regions of the African, Asian and European continents, places where settlers have drifted from many different areas and remained for centuries. They mark out this family living in the middle of nowhere, eking out a living on scrubland by the sea with their goats. It was easier before Malek left. Mohamed has really struggled to cope without his eldest son, and has had to deal with the additional trauma of an animal attack on his youngest. Now Malek has returned, bringing with him a mysterious, pregnant wife, and Mohamed finds himself more troubled than ever.

Meetings between parents and new partners are often difficult, but when they arrive back at the homestead, Malek and his wife have nowhere else to go. Who is this shy young woman? Why won't she remove her niqab? Mohamed's wife recognises something vulnerable in her, tries gently to build a connection. Mohamed himself is troubled by what he sees as a fundamentalist religious gesture in his own home, a constant reminder of the reason why Malek left - to go and fight with Daesh.

Nothing is what it seems but by the time Mohamed figures that out, it may be too late.

Meryam Joobeur's short explores the far-reaching impact of the war in Syria and the damage that the so-called brotherhood of the militants has done to Dar al-Islam. The seeming remoteness of the military actions - and their immediate impact on civilians - becomes less abstract when paralleled by the tensions within the family, and the misunderstandings at the centre of the story are a poignant reflection of those that drive so much larger scale conflict.

Beautifully photographed, the film captures the intense sense of home that develops more surely in hard lands where everything that grows or is built testifies to struggle. Here we are on the very edge of civilisation, pushed up against the elements, and this serves to emphasise its importance, the need for shared values and cooperation. Mohamed understands all this yet his resentment of his son's choices puts him in a moral quandary. Whatever comes of it all, the howling wind along the beach will be there to remind him - and us - of how fragile it all is.

Reviewed on: 02 Oct 2019
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Brotherhood packshot
Mohamed is deeply shaken when his oldest son Malik returns home after a long journey with a mysterious new wife.

Director: Meryam Joobeur

Writer: Meryam Joobeur

Starring: Kais Ayari, Mohamed Grayaâ, Mouldi Kriden

Year: 2018

Runtime: 25 minutes

Country: Canada, Tunisia, Qatar, Sweden

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