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2011-03-11 12:40
What it's about:

A fraternity initiation prank goes horribly awry resulting in a kidnapping, a convenience store robbery, a traffic accident and, most problematically, the gunshot wound of the fraternity's new member.

What we thought:

Every once in a while a film comes along, seemingly out of nowhere, that totally defies expectations and leaves you pleasantly surprised by its independent spirit and its unassuming success as a piece of filmmaking. Sometimes these films are genuine game-changers that signify the coming of a new major talent – think Tarantino's Reservoir Dogs, Wes Anderson's Rushmore or Edgar Wright's Shaun of the Dead. Sometimes though, the film in question may or may not herald a great new talent but rather than being a shocking new take on an already existing genre, is simply a brilliantly handled example of that genre. Brotherhood is a perfect example of the latter.

It's true, Brotherhood will not change the face of cinema forever and it's not likely to stay with you long after you've seen it, but it's an impressively taut thriller with enough satirical black humour to make it more than your ordinary crime film. That it was made by a first-time feature film director, on an apparently tiny budget and with mostly unknown actors, only makes it all the more impressive.

When you consider just how many thrillers are released each year, it does take a fair amount for any of them to stand out. Now, while I'm not sure if Brotherhood will garner enough of an audience to truly make a splash, it certainly should stand out in a genre that sadly tends to mediocrity more often that not. At 76 minutes, director Will Canon ensures that the film doesn't even have the opportunity to catch its breath, let alone overstay its welcome. It's compelling from minute one and doesn't slow down for a second as it throws its characters into a spiral of increasingly destructive stupidity.

Better yet though, while it's working effortlessly as a thriller, it clearly has a whole other dimension boiling just below the surface. The way the plot unfolds can easily be seen as comedic and there is a sense that Canon is playing that up for all its worth, especially as it constantly takes aim at the insanity and meat-headed-dumbness of the whole college fraternity culture. It's about as easy a target as you could hope to find but that doesn't mean that it isn't a deserving one and Canon and co make good use of the fraternity as a symbol for the stupidity of mob-thinking and the loss of the individual.

That it all ends up with one of the most sardonically funny pseudo-twist-endings I've seen in a long time only further solidifies Brotherhood's status as a really good little film that I'm sure will be seen as an overlooked gem in the years to come.    

An easy movie to overlook at the cinema, Brotherhood is an impressively taut thriller with enough satirical black humour to make it more than your ordinary crime film.
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