Brotherhood – 60% Out Of 100

A packed house of cast, crew and invited guests filled the VUE Leicester Square for this screening of Brotherhood which marks the end of the ‘Hood’ movies which raised a generation and shaped the future of British film.

Creator, Writer and Star Noel Clarke introduced the film with a touching speech on leaving the hood franchise behind. Many of the cast members past and present were in the building to watch the final instalment.

I would advise watching Kidulthood & Adulthood before seeing this ending, for nostalgia and also to recap on some of the story lines and characters which are revisited here.

Brotherhood starts with a shooting which awakens Sam from his life away from crime. The Godfather theme – just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in – sets the narrative for this film as previously with Adulthood. Rivals revenge & retribution, much of the same elements are put together again with the expected mix of sex, money, gangs and drama but the underlying allegorical thread throughout is redemption. Lives have been changed over the years, and those who made it out feel duty bound to save the rest. A great message to those watching who may still have one foot or entire crews still engaged in real life criminality.

Noel Clarke is a grown up, this is his graduation. The storyline is tighter with a few exceptions, the writing expanded and edgier and the acting by the ensemble cast is for the most part packaged much better than the other movies.

Brotherhood by itself could easily be classed as a sophisticated look at street life, but when added to the trilogy it is a fitting sendoff which accurately showcases the lifespan of street life and how important these movies have been for British Urban Film. Never focusing on one element fully it could have been a confusing mess but great production ensures the outcome is a well put together piece of work. I’m sure the Lionsgate budget helped out a little bit too.

The addition of Stormzy to the cast was no doubt to capitalise on his current status and also bring in an audience too young to appreciate Kidulthood in its time, to his credit he comes away with a solid performance, although not a stretch from his music persona and ends up on the right side. It was great to see old favourites like Shanika Warren Markland & Arnold Oceng back, although it is not clear from the film how their characters both ended up in close contact with Sam.

Red Madrell also returns to reprise her role as Alissa and we get to see a glimpse of the daughter Trife left behind in Kidulthood. David Ajala as Desmond is great to see, first a kid in the playground, then a PSCO now a full-fledged CID investigator but still Sam’s friend in need, the true definition of the title Brotherhood.

Cornell John’s portrayal as Curtis has always been the Achilles heel for me. Being of Jamaican decent, his exaggerated accent jarred back then and has not improved. Most of the villains in the film take on a comical demeanour but this portrayal borders on pantomime, It’s a shame much of the storyline centres around Curtis and Sam’s long standing feud. But, that one sore point was overshadowed by a stellar performance throughout from Arnold Oceng as Henry. He is by far the strongest character on screen both in stature and comical timing. From questioning the paternity of his lookalike child to his scenes with Stormzy, and Lashana Lynch who plays wife Ashanti, if this wasn’t the end I could easily see Noel Clarke making an entire series based on his character alone.

Director: Noel Clarke
Writer: Noel Clarke
Cast: David Ajala, Noel Clarke, Arnold Oceng, Lashana Lynch, Stormzy, Shania Warren-Markland, Ashley Thomas
UK release date: July 29th 2016


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