REVIEW: Brotherhood [2019]

Rating: 10 out of 10.
  • Rating: NR | Runtime: 25 minutes
    Release Date: 2019 (Canada)
    Studio: Travelling Distribution
    Director(s): Meryam Joobeur
    Writer(s): Meryam Joobeur

Promise me that you’ll never go there.


Terrorism is a complex topic too many gloss over in a desire to pretend it’s simple. We generalize and make blanket declarations against an enemy all while refusing to even attempt to understand where they’re coming from. So we of course would never accept the reality that it’s often our own actions that ultimately ignite theirs. It’s why Zionists in Israel label Palestinians terrorists despite being the ones who stole their land. It’s why Americans adopt xenophobic ideologies that lump good people in with bad simply because of the color of their skin, the God they worship, or the language they speak. Just look at the ways in which Republican politicians wish to control women through legislature in the same breathe as they denounce Sharia Law.

This is a product of fear and it occurs on levels much closer to home than war. Think about the domineering visage of a parent punishing his/her child in ways that push them into the arms of someone willing to lend a helping hand in return for loyalty to a cause they’ve conveniently recontextualized for better recruitment results. It’s how cults are created and how families are broken apart. It’s why Malek (Malek Mechergui) escaped what he believed to be a childhood of indentured servitude to fight alongside his ISIS “Muslim brothers” in Syria. And it’s why his father Mohamed (Mohamed Grayaâ) harbors such rage upon the boy’s unannounced return with a new bride (Jasmin Lazid‘s Reem). He fears Malek will brainwash his younger brothers too.

Writer/director Meryam Joobeur‘s powerful short Brotherhood shows what the distance between Mohamed and Malek will create if they refuse to see each other as anything but enemies. The son saw his father as an oppressor then and the father sees his son as a murderer now. But there are details yet to be spoken and regrets yet to be confronted. Allegiances have been warped by assumptions and the one in the dark towards what’s happening imagines the worst like always. Appearances can be deceiving, though, and actions taken without knowing the full picture can cause permanent damage until a so-called savior discovers he’s become the tyrant he thought he was fighting against. Every hero is another’s villain and their shared silence will only guarantee this cycle continues forever.

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