Critics’ Connection: Brotherly Love

Brotherly Love Still

Photo Source: Blackfilm.com

Story:  Set in West Philadelphia, born-and-raised basketball star Sergio Taylor (Eric D. Hill, Jr.) deals with the early pressures of fame.  Alongside older brother June (Cory Hardrict), who lost his own hoop dreams to the streets to provide for the family after their father’s death, and sister Jackie (KeKe Palmer), whose own musical ambitions are sidetracked by love, Sergio faces life-altering decisions on the streets of Philly.  Starring:  Keke Palmer, Cory Hardrict, Romeo Miller, Eric D. Hill, Jr., Macy Gray, Quincy Brown, Faison Love, Malik Yoba.  Director:  Jamal Hill.  Writer:  Jamal Hill.  Source:  Official Facebook page.

What the critics are saying about Brotherly Love:

Black Film: In Jamal Hill’s coming-of-age urban drama, Brotherly Love, themes of love, family, and trust are executed in a well-mannered way that could have easily been dismissed as a hodgepodge of melodrama storylines.

With a cast that includes familiar faces and newcomers from Cory Hardrict, Keke Palmer, Eric D. Hill, Jr., Julito McCullum, Romeo Miller, Logan Browning, Quincy Brown, Faizon Love, Macy Gray, Justin Martin, Marc John Jefferies, Little JJ, Teyana Taylor and Malik Yoba, this ensemble film brings in enough elements from comedy to drama that it becomes a moving, enjoyable treat highlighted by surprising performances.

Set in West Philadelphia, there are two sides of the streets, “The Top” and “The Bottom.” Over at the Bottom, we’re introduced to the Taylor family, where big brother June (Hardrict) has been providing for the family, since the loss of their father, through illegal gains so that his younger brother and basketball star Sergio (Hill Jr.) can be the one that gets out the hood and be the star he was meant to be. Not only does he have to stay loyal to his brother, but he’s also facing pressure with from boys at school, on and off the court.

There’s also younger Jackie (Palmer) who’s going through that teenage adolescence when she meets up with Chris Collins (Brown), who’s has the looks and a car, and is the son of a record executive. He’s seems like the perfect guy, especially when he can arrange to help out with her music career, but there’s one issue. He’s from The Top, where there’s already beef with June and his crew from The Bottom.

With an alcoholic mom (Macy Gray) who may or may not be conscious half the time, Sergio has to find a way to survive in a community littered by pressure from him succeed, drugs and violence.

Produced and starring an African American cast and crew, Brotherly Love brings in similar themes that folks can relate to but at the same time has a universal appeal that many will appreciate. See the full review at Black Film.

Hello Beautiful: Word on the “Black cinema” streets is that Brotherly Love is the new Juice or Boyz N The Hood. Based on the trailer, the homage is clear with its cute homegirls, shady drug dealers and a dollar and a dream prototypes. The elements are there to make Brotherly Love a potential successor. But as much as you’ll want to laud Jamal Hill‘s passion project, it will not be iconic as the films before it. With hopes of a dual fanbase from the Instagram generation and original movie-goers of Menace II Society, the film transpires more as a tribute than a true slice of life as a Black youth in 2015.

Generally speaking, the acting is standard in Brotherly Love. There are minor heartfelt moments and one particular twist and shocker that will make any suspense screenwriter nod with approval. There isn’t much to criticize the script for aside from its familiar territory.

What Brotherly Love lacks, however, is that documentary-style sensibility that dominated those 90s classic. Films like Juice and Menace II Society effortlessly connected to the current events of its day and even the local lifestyle and jargon of New York City or South Central L.A. were included as supporting characteristics. John Singleton‘s Boyz N The Hood, an impressively-layered take on Black-on-Black crime and police brutality in South Central, arrived just four months after Rodney King was viciously beaten by four White policemen on an L.A. highway in 1991. Singleton wasn’t merely imitating life in his art. His film further analyzed it. And the timing was remarkable. Brotherly Love barely contributes anything new to the storytelling of inner-city life. To target this movie as the new generation’s Boyz, Juice, or Menace is unfair and places it in a space that’s already been so culturally and significantly defined.

Brotherly Love attempted to be the film of our current time frame of “Black Lives Matters.” But we are still in search or waiting for that one film so honest and unique to the life as a Black girl or boy in the 21st century. See the full review at Hello Beautiful.

Note: The content of this post is adapted from the primary sources as referenced above. Click on the links to read the original reviews in their entirety.

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