HALF BROTHERS is ultimately a film about acceptance
HALF BROTHERS (2020)
Half Brothers is ultimately a film about acceptance; whether it be between two drastically different brothers, or a kidnapped goat, the world needs to be more understanding. With a strong sense of family, drama, and light hearted comedy, Half Brothers is a film worth seeing for its message alone.
Director Luke Greenfield helmed one of the best dark comedies out there, The Girl Next Door, and now is back for another go. Centering on the story of two outcast brothers taking a road trip, the film displays racism in a realistic depiction, allowing it to halt pieces of the story from moving forward and giving the audience a grasp on how unnecessary mistreatment is as the two travel the country. The film is always light, and even in its darkest moments tries to brighten the mood with a possibly positive outcome. This is something Greenfield is smart with - contrasting the darkness in the air with the light of the day.
Instructions Not Included (2013) scribe returns with his first film since and arrives with the magic, crafting the story and co-writing the screenplay with Jason Shuman – making this his first writing credit. The story follows half brothers Renato and Asher as they take a road trip to find out the history of their recently deceased father and the reasons why Renato was abandoned as a child. As the two discover more about their father, these newly connected brothers must join together and solve the mystery before Renato is late to his wedding ceremony. The story is sweet, emotional, and pulls you in from the start, however its awkward pace hinders the entire experience. Half Brothers is the first film in a long time that I believe should have been better serviced with a slightly longer runtime.
ACTING | CHARACTERS | DIALOGUE:
Luis Gerardo Mendez and Conor Del Rio are a predictable odd couple, with irritations quickly growing large. With every minute longer of Conor acting crazy, the patience of Mendez’s Renato and the audience quickly becomes strained. Renato is a fantastic character, as you understand why his emotions are the way they are, and Mendez does a beautiful job with the material. Del Rio’s Asher however comes off a little strong, cranking his lunacy up to eleven before eventually dropping it to a reasonable number. Their chemistry feels odd, partially because Renato comes out of the gate disliking Asher, making it hard to handle two characters that are on completely separate bases. As the film draws to a close and time starts to run out for Renato’s wedding, the final moments lack emotion as there just wasn’t enough to let us feel similarly to how the brothers ultimately feel. Our third central character, mainly within flashbacks, is the brothers’ father Flavio Murguia played by Juan Pablo Espinosa, who without question has the best story arc among the cast. As the brothers unravel a new thread of the story, so does the audience, making us feel deeply for the reasonings behind Flavio’s disappearance from Renato’s life.
VISUAL EFFECTS | MAKEUP | DESIGN:
Visually the film is very bright, favored by desert settings. The sky is always a bright blue, making even the darkest of moments within the day seem less so. However as the night falls, things seem much more ominous and dire as the brothers face trials that conclude once the sun starts to shine again. Costume design is excellent in the film, providing a sense of seriousness to Renato with a suit and a sense of a relaxed, folly mindset that resides within Asher with his vacation attire on at all times. Visual cues like a remote controlled plane transforming into a large plane of similar build is just one of the fantastic decisions made by the cinematographer and the VFX team onboard.
MUSIC | SCORE | SOUND DESIGN:
Jordan Seigel's composition is excellent when it needs to be, providing a lighthearted energy to the feature. Amped up when necessary and drawn back the rest of the runtime, the score blends well with the tone of the film and keeps up the momentum from beginning to end.
Half Brothers is a perfect film to end 2020; in a time when everyone needs to learn to accept one another once again, Greenfield's film tries to pull us together through its family values. Half Brothers may not be a film that stays in the spotlight, but for now, in this moment, this film helps us see light in the darkness.
HALF BROTHERS Opens In Theaters on December 4th