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Diamonds in the Rough: Brotherhood

October 4, 2011

In this day and age of oversaturation, wherein movie trailers last three minutes and show in — multi-second increments — brief snapshots from nearly every major scene of a motion picture, it’s nearly impossible to find a movie one knows nothing about. Currently, if you truly want to discover a movie completely off the radar, your best bet is to attend a gathering like, say, the Toronto Film Festival — and even then, festival films are starting to get “early buzz” like summer blockbusters.

With the internet covering, from some vantage point, nearly every angle of every film out there, it’s incredibly satisfying to discover a movie without having received any background about it at all. Certain avenues, like Netflix streaming, make this process easier, but it’s always important to at least toss the film’s name into the Rotten Tomatoes engine, just to ensure you’re not getting something like Paris Hilton’s The Hottie and the Nottie (damn you for burning me on that one, Paris!).

That said, my recent stumbling upon director Will Canon’s 2010 festival round-maker Brotherhood was serendipitous indeed.  Canon’s film, which depicts the fallout following a fraternity pledge prank gone horribly wrong, had me from the first shot to the last.

Brotherhood clearly was made on a small budget, but is thankfully free from many of the problems which plague typically small-budget films. For one, it’s acted beautifully on nearly all levels. It’s also well shot, clearly the product of a director who knows what he’s doing. It’s also a movie about people under the age of 24 which isn’t mumblecore and doesn’t feature a lot of long, rambling conversational shots. The chain reaction set in motion by the events which occur before the film’s title card come swiftly and unexpectedly, as a often unlikeable fraternity members go to increasingly greater degrees to save their own asses instead of doing the right, much easier thing.

I’ll only give you a brief taste of the plot: Brotherhood opens in a van speeding around town, inside which a pledgemaster Frank leads a group of frat pledges through an exercise which involves the possible robbing of convenience stores and gas stations. When one of the stops goes bad, the fellas are left with a freshman with a gunshot wound and a mess on their hands which could lead to a pledge’s death or (to them) something worse: the fraternity landing in trouble. The resulting series of intertwined events chronicled by the film is never dull; Canon’s an able director with a great eye for masking the misdirect (of that you’ll get no hint from me, sorry), and Brotherhood stays nimble and sharp in it’s brief one-hour-and-twenty-minute run time.

I’m not sure why I liked Brotherhood so much; perhaps it’s because it’s a tight little suspense thriller. Maybe it’s because for a smaller film, its actors seem consistently believable. Or possibly it’s because Canon deftly skips from lilypad to lilypad until the film’s final scenes. Most likely, though, I enjoyed Brotherhood so much because it’s an affirmation that there are great young directors out there who have yet to be truly “discovered,” and who are doing some solid work without the benefit of web buzz or celebrity guest stars and producing partners. And discovering Brotherhood for myself –without having seen a trailer, without having read an Entertainment Weekly plot synopsis — was a true delight. Sometimes these small treasures can slightly reaffirm one’s faith in the whole film scene altogether. I’d encourage all of us to go find a film like Brotherhood — or any movie which strikes your fancy — on your own, without preconceived notions, and just enjoy the experience of watching a film again with no idea of where it’s headed. It’s really quite exhilerating, and you never know what you might find.

Brotherhood is currently available on Netflix Instant Streaming, or whatever it’s called these days. 

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One Comment
  1. January 17, 2012 2:34 pm

    I love brotherhood.i want to join them.

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