Directed by: #MaurizioMistretta
Written by: #AntoniaDaSilva
ShortFilm Review by: #ChrisBuick
Back in late 2019, the Hong Kong government passed a bill into law which would allow the possible extradition of its people to the Chinese mainland. Many believed this to be a risk to their civil liberties as well as their country’s judicial autonomy and thus protests began, eventually evolving into horrible and violent clashes between those protesters and authorities.
Written by Antonia Da Silva and inspired by the Hong Kong Democratic movement, The Two Brothers is a cautionary tale of who the real victims are when these demonstrations escalate into something truly horrific.
When we first meet our two siblings in their youth, Melvin (Kongsukkanjana) is struggling with terrible bouts of bullying, but at least he always has his older brother Jackie (Kraokruer) to have his back. As the two eventually grow older, Melvin (Chen), having vowed to never be bullied again, now feels empathy for the oppressed and finds himself part of the pro-democratic group that are leading these protests, while Jackie (Bayaraa), ever the protector, is now a police officer trying to help defuse the situation. As a result, they also grow further apart, not necessarily in their love for one another, but in their contrasting ideals about the world around them. With both brothers standing up for what they believe is right, they soon find themselves on opposite sides of the divide when the civil unrest reaches boiling point.
The Two Brothers is certainly a film filled with unfortunate truths. These events can have devastating consequences for the everyday people caught up in the troubles, and usually less so for the people at the top making the decisions. However, it seems that in its attempt to be shocking and impactful with its message, the film neglects to do the adequate legwork that it needs to in order to achieve the level of gravitas it is reaching for.
This may be partly because the performances and writing of the characters here seem to be lacking some conviction. While we do get an understanding of the brothers’ close connection through basic storytelling and some more touching flashbacks with the younger actors, it doesn’t come across in the dynamic between the two older leads, and there is little else to get the audience to where the film wants them to be. Ultimately, the resulting apathy towards these characters means there is too big a leap for us to take to be invested enough in them when we reach the dramatic finale, something which the film seems to be in too much of a hurry to get to.
Positively though, the look and feel of the film is pretty much on the money, the contrast of the bright and sunny visuals of the brothers’ simpler past brilliantly offset the dark motifs of the chaotic present. Despite its subject matter, it never leans too heavy on an over-abundance of action to be eye-catching, and the same can be said for the well-thought out scoring, which helps give the film the correct balance of tone.
The Two Brothers is a film with something important to say and its voice is loud, clear and sadly, still relevant. However, some unfortunate missteps here and there means it does not have the full effect it perhaps desired.