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   Movie Reviews: Brother to Brother
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by
Samantha Ofole-Prince

Studio:
     Wolfe
Plot:
     A feature length narrative which follows the emotional journey of a black gay artist through the Harlem Renaissance
Cast:
     Anthony Mackie, Roger Robinson, Daniel Sunjata, Larry Gilliard Jr., Aunjanue Ellis
Rating:
     Not Rated
Bottom Line:
     **

Coverage:

Brother to Brother follows the emotional and psychological journey of Perry (Anthony Mackie), a young black troubled gay painter and poet. Ostracized from his family who refute his homosexuality, he meets a homeless aging poet, Bruce Nugent (Roger Robinson) and together they embark on a surreal narrative journey through Nugent’s inspiring past. Nugent who was involved in the Harlem Renaissance regales Perry with tales and stories of his own unacceptance into society, and Perry suddenly finds himself transported back in time and cavorting with the likes of Langston Hughes (Daniel Sunjata) and Zora Neale Hurston (Aunjanue Ellis), as Nugent who once knew those famous writers narrates his life in the early 1930’s.

The feature-film debut of filmmaker Rodney Evans, Brother to Brother successfully explores the life and struggles of black, gay artists in the past and present. With numerous transitions between time periods (1930’s and present), which seem a little contrived and in excess, it never fully explores Perry’s troubled character and appears far too ambitious in its overall narration. It is very sexually explicit with full frontal nudity and graphic sexual scenes and is extremely passionate about the subject of society’s rejection of homosexuality. Mackie’s (She Hate Me) portrayal of a troubled gay man is compelling and his complete focus on the character is a very refreshing.

Brother to Brother’s artistic portrayal of gays and the injustice of self expression is very well documented. With supporting costumes and footage from the early 1930’s, it offers an incredible insight into the lives of legendary poets of our time and strives to make links between these historical figures and lives of young contemporary African American artists before their prime. Although it is well directed, has a strong acting cast and a moving and haunting storyline, the movie would have fared even better had it fully explored Mackie’s character and the effects and impact the aging poet had made on his life – his overall perception and his interaction with others, including his parents.

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