Eye For Film >> Movies >> Mother And Brother (2015) Film Review
Mother And Brother
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
A simple story with complex undertones, Mother And Brother explores the feelings of two brothers caring for their ailing mother, an uneasy power dynamic and the suppressed tension it has created in each of them, which finally manifests in drastic action. Strong cinematography and capable performances give it a weight that can be difficult to achieve within the constraints of the form, but it doesn't quite succeed in keeping its balance as it navigates difficult ground.
Laurence Fuller is the older brother and - despite showing the least agency - the real heart of the film. It's largely through his silent actions and glances that we see the pressure on which the tale hinges. Things come to a head when his younger brother (Clint Napier) is about to get married. Though it's never directly articulated, it's clear that his sibling's escape has brought his own future, the endless years of responsibility and isolation, into sharp relief - and yet he seems entirely unable to take action. Instead, he lashes out at his brother and at the bride to be whom he barely knows. She receives similar treatment directly from their mother. An outsider, she can interpret it only in the crudest terms, and one is left wondering how, across such a gulf, the new relationship can hope to survive.
The mother is the weak link in the story, because although Lisa Goodman's acting is strong, we never really get the chance to connect with her as a character. Has she always been abusive towards her sons, or is it a recent development - exacerbated, perhaps, by the fear of losing them, of seeing her already restricted world get smaller? Has she always been ill; to what extent is pain, or the loss of her own freedom, a factor in her behaviour? All we can do here is speculate and this gives the film a one-sidedness that robs it of nuance. Nevertheless, the seeming inevitability of conflict in this claustrophobic situation is effectively conveyed, as is the helplessness of all the characters, their inability to interrupt the cycle of cruelty.
A thoughtful film which leaves the viewer with more questions than answers, Mother And Brother may not quite achieve its potential but it has a lot to offer along the way.Reviewed on: 27 Jul 2015
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