Film Review – My Brothers

My Brothers

Directed by: Paul Fraser

Starring: Timmy Creed, Paul Courtney, T.J. Griffin

Three and a half stars

Review by: Julian Wright

Road trip films have been done to death, right? Get a bunch of folk in a car and chart their zany adventures, or misadventures, for 90 minutes and hey presto. It is an easy set-up. And they are usually populated with dopey teenagers. It is the kind of screenplay that a monkey could write in its sleep by this point. But putting a fresh twist on and injecting some substance into the worn out sub-genre, writer Will Collins and director Paul Fraser place three brothers of different ages facing the death of their bedridden father in a clapped out van, which results in some of the most heartwarming moments in recent film.

With their Dad’s health deteriorating, brothers Noel (Timmy Creed), Paudie (Paul Courtney) and Scwally (T.J. Griffin) are dealing, or not dealing, with his impending death. Their Dad is slipping away and Noel fears his memories will fade too – particularly for his younger brothers who seem to go about their daily business without a thought for their sick parent. The only way the lonely, awkward teenager knows how to deal with his plight is to keep a diary.

While Noel helps his mum make ends meet by doing early morning bread runs to local delis, Paudie seems more interested in pull my finger gags and Scwally can’t take his attention away from his toy light sabre – even though he has never seen Star Wars. As if being a teenager isn’t hard enough, Noel seems to have extra weight on his shoulders. He takes his father’s watch, which is later smashed in an altercation with a school bully. He decides to borrow his rust bucket work van and drive across rural Ireland to the seaside town where the watch came from to replace it with another one. But his brothers tag along.

At first it doesn’t seem like much of a bonding exercise as the boys spend more time arguing than anything else, but as the journey continues it becomes clear that it will be one that brings them closer together. But don’t let my description lead you to believe this will be one of those sappy road trips that will have you reaching for the “off” button rather than the tissues. There is heart to this slight and sweet, but not overly sentimental film that will win you over solely by the charm of the three leads.  There are also some laugh out loud exchanges – heightened by the cute Irish accents – in and outside of the van.

At times the pace feels sluggish and it doesn’t always feel like the story is being propelled forward with any particular purpose. An unusual element is the introduction of the threat of a pedophile, which seems to come from another film entirely, and later becomes apparent that it exist as a red herring. But the trip is worth the pit stops. Having been made in 2010, My Brothers has taken its time to make its way to our shores (although, admittedly, nowhere near as long as the recently released Margaret) but it has been worth the wait for this little gem.

My Brothers will screen as part of the Perth Revelation International Film Festival on July 14 and 15.

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