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Growing up poor in a Toronto suburb at the margins of Canadian society, two sons of a Caribbean immigrant have to struggle for belonging and future. This novel, Brother, is an honest examination of lives that are balanced on a knife’s edge. The bonds that hold a family together are severely tested as tragedy rattles a strong foundation. Brother, based on David Chariandy’s prize-winning novel, adds depth and nuance to the book’s absorbing characters. It is a heartbreaking narrative about their love for one another being pulled apart by outside forces.

Brother happens within three interwoven timelines across twenty years. The film opens with an electric tower at the base of which shy Michael (Lamar Johnson) and his handsome outgoing older brother Francis (Aaron Pierre) meet in early 90s Scarborough Ontario. When he climbs to the top, Francis invites Michael who looks afraid to join him there. As it jumps back and forth delineating their upbringing, the film frames its characters through that attempted ascent.

Mother hurries out of their apartment while young Francis (Jacob Williams) takes care of Michael (Sebastian Nigel Singh). After her husband left them, Ruth (Marsha Stephanie Blake), a native Jamaican had been raising her kids alone with only herself as caregiver. She runs towards the bus stop located beside project housing areas. They all queue in lines before taking care wealthy Canadians while still immigrants themselves. Music plays in the background as they listen and the daughter of neighbor Aisha (Delia Lisette Chambers) hangs out with brothers.

When they find out he is Francis’ brother they back down; His name carries respectability making it easier for Michael to go through life generally accepted; Academic work has always been a priority but this hasn’t stopped him from occasionally having sexual interest toward beautiful Aisha (Kiana Madeira); But Michael attempts impressing her with intellect horribly fail.

Michael gets ready for work later in present a grown-up. Ruth hasn’t gotten out of her room for quite some time, she is but an empty husk. Though he does his best to cook meals, Michael often feels concerned about his mother’s well-being. It is cold and empty like a tomb in the apartment. In the courtyard, Michael spots someone from his past. Aisha has come back briefly; seeing her makes him smile for the first time in ages. She asks if Ruth’s doing any better now. At this point, he promises Aisha that they will meet again soon without uttering a word about his subconscious grief separating them further apart.

Francis is not there anymore as Brother reveals in its first act; The warmth that shone around him was brighter than anything else in the world which has since burned out completely; Flashbacks fill us in on what happened to Francis; Everyone lived as if Francis were everything to them; As far as Michael is concerned, he idolized him and looked up to him so much so that if his brother wore size 13 shoes then Michael would wear size 9 sneakers under his shadowy velocity or stay silent when asked questions by teachers at school because Francis commanded such respect even among students who were ahead of their years academically and athletically; However, he never forgets who he owes thanks to or turns away from him instead choosing always to remain together with them against rest of world no matter what happens next whereas offering encouragement just enough help boost self-esteem especially important during adolescence.

Director and writer Clement Virgo (Love Come Down, Lie With Me) uses the harsh environment as both backdrop and metaphor to develop his storyline and explore key relationships with other characters, These two brothers are first-generation Canadians living in government housing projects; The district they live in has became over-run with violence committed by gangs; The police regard black youth as problematic young criminals who pose risks wherever they reside within such areas; Being from the area, both Francis and Michael have to take a stand on that particular issue or they will be targeted by criminals who know no better.

Francis devotes all his imaginative powers to writing music. He wants to be a DJ and a rapper. It’s the means by which he escapes the harsh environment around him. But he is never shy of throwing a punch or starting a fight. Francis insists on respect. He places high value on himself and would not let that be spoiled. This fierce courage is both strength and weakness. Francis will not accept mediocrity in his abilities. His mother and Michael admire his candid personality for it is a good quality.

The hope that Francis had inspired in Michael as an adult has been lost.What dreams he thought were possible, have hit rock bottom.The brutal reality of ghetto life has swallowed him up.The spark of joy cradled between his mother and Francis goes out.His future happiness becomes myopia.He only worries about his mother’s welfare.Even Aisha makes me think there could still be light at the end of this tunnel.If he lets it go, she can bring him into brightness.Though, requesting someone to take these step while still suffering from permanent anguish might seem like demanding too much.

Brother deals with disturbing subjects honestly and directly. Virgo does not glamorize things.He openly illustrates how Michael and Francis do not belong.They are poor, young, black boys; easy targets for institutionalized racism.The shocking climax where Francis’ fate is finally known comes like a juggernaut.There is no way you can’t reel from such an awesome blow

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