Indie Movie Review – Call Me Brother

call me brother 2018Call Me Brother is a story about, surprise surprise, a pair of siblings: Brother/Tony (Andrew Dismukes) and Sister/Lisa (Christina Parrish). They are about a year apart chronologically, but were separated around the age of six and/or seven. Lisa went off to live with Mum/Rachel (Kim Lowery), while Tony stayed behind with Dad/Frank (Asaf Ronen).

Ten years later and Rachel is going away to Cancun. She decides to drop Lisa off with her father and his girlfriend Doris (Danu Uribe) and so the now teenage siblings are back, sharing the bedroom they used to share as young children.

So the main thrust of Call Me Brother is that now there are a pair of sixteen/seventeen-year-olds in the house. I’ve specified the ages because Frank and Doris act like teenagers too. To be honest, Frank seems — to me at least — a bit odd. He’s peach obsessed, insists that his children call him “Frank” rather than “Dad”, and has that “trying too hard to be cool” vibe that parents of teenagers can get.


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The mother, Rachel, seems to be very self centred; I feel she has custody of Lisa just to stop Frank from having her. She reminds me of someone I knew many years ago who went through an acrimonious divorce and insisted on having the lawn mower, even though he had moved into a fourth floor flat. And it’s obvious that Frank and Rachel had an acrimonious divorce, because with every flashback scene showing how happy Tony and Lisa are, Frank and Rachel are arguing bitterly in the background.

Bringing siblings together, in a whole new way

So that’s the scene set… two teens brought back together after ten years apart, with only letters to keep in touch. They were happy when they were young, but will they be happy when they are thrust back together?

I mean to say… there’s a lot of us out there who have either had siblings of a similar age or been parents of said beasts, and I’m sure we’ve all been aware of the spectrum that runs from “would happily murder” to “couldn’t live without.” (We’ve also experienced that the teens involved could go from one end to the other and back again several times a day.)

No spoilers; no worries

What part of Call Me Brother is, as the subtitle boasts, incestuous?  Or is this a misdirect?

Obviously this is where I have to stop without giving anything away, so I’ll just concentrate on the film itself. It was well shot, well acted, mainly well cast, and well directed. I say ‘mainly well cast’ because there is the usual problem of casting age-believable actors for teenage roles; the two leads get away with it, but their friends tend to miss the mark.

Another thing that I was less than happy with is the amount of swearing. I’m not totally averse to robust language, but I just feel it is best in its rightful place, and I can not remember my parents ever swearing in front of me or tolerating it. Similarly, I can’t recall swearing at or in conversation with my own children. Is this a real life American thing or something that only happens in films?

The strange case of the running length

And then there’s the running length. The version I saw was 1hr 17mins. The IMDb page gives it as being 1hr 45mins, but also says that it won a Special Jury Award at the 2018 Florida Film Festival for Short Film-Comedic Originality, and I usually think of short films as being definitely under an hour, or more often 20-30 minutes in length.

But, those relatively minor niggles apart, overall I really enjoyed Call Me Brother, and recommend giving it a watch.

Movie Grade: B

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Movie review : Brothers

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9 thoughts on “Indie Movie Review – Call Me Brother”

  1. Looks unusual, and I’m always up for a comedy. Is this a raunchy comedy? Hard to tell from your review.

    Yep, we curse here all the time, to everyone, and I didn’t realize that wasn’t something you guys in the UK tried to avoid. I mean, I grew up in New York, if you get my meaning. Some people don’t curse for I think religious reasons.

    But don’t you say Bloody, Bugger, Sodding, Balls, and such?

  2. Is it raunchy? Hard to say without giving too much away but I will say that nobody gets naked, there isn’t any of that great American phobia the female nipple shown, and all buttocks remain covered. However, it’s still very possible to get raunchy and stay covered up so you’ll just have to watch it and make your own mind up.

    Oh, don’t get me wrong… people do swear over here. It’s just that it tends to be in groups of friends, colleagues, workmates, etc. A parent swearing at, or even just in conversation with, a child of any age would raise an eyebrow or two. Having said that, I think some words like bloody, bugger, sodding, balls, etc. aren’t held to be proper swear words anymore. They seem to be in an everyday, acceptable, purely for a bit of venting kind of category but even then, they can cause offence if they’re over used.

  3. Okay, just watched the trailer and it seems pretty sweetly intended, not a raunchy comedy like American Pie, or Something About Mary. It’s a whole genre that probably started becoming mainstream after Porkies. I don’t know if you recall that one, but there’s a certain shower scene that is viscerally iconic!

    I happen to know what sodding means, and I didn’t figure it to be family friendly. I guess it depends on the word. We can use bitch, shit, damn, and hell all we like in mixed society, but try using the C-word on someone — not acceptable. We can get away with a legitimate “Fuck!” but the Eddie Murphy days of fuck usage have faded.

    But about the movie, I’ll be giving this a watch.

  4. Oh definitely not American Pie or Porkies which I always considered as something that the people who were too ashamed or scared to get porn used to rent. Also much gentler than a Farrelly Brothers outing.

    I think the thing that threw me was I’d assumed Americans to be even more uptight than we were! Any society that has to say rooster instead of cock or tid-bits instead of tit-bits just seemed like it would be a bit more reserved with their vocab. Oh, the whole “son of a bitch” thing is a mystery over here; we know it’s an insult but it’s not a phrase that I’ve ever heard said in real life.

    The C-word is still a big no-no but seems to moving more into the mainstream; apparently it’s already there in Australia. I remember when I did the times and a review for The Gentlemen pointing out that it was a bit “C” heavy and some might not like it. I suppose if today’s equivalent of Eddie Murphy still want to shock then they have to go there as “fuck” has lost a lot of its clout. They’ll be having to make up new words soon!

    1. I sometimes use “that fucking fucker” for people that really seem evil. But to me it’s like saying “that lying liar who lies.”

      Oh, you’ve got wanker too. Which I understand, but then ‘pants’, ‘shirty”…what? I love me some English-isms.

      The C word is slightly more acceptable than the N word. Or the F-word that people used to use for Gays, or the R-word for the disabled.

      I always assumed the Brits were more uptight. Ever seen A Fish Called Wanda? You guys have to queue properly, keep a stiff upper lip, and be polite. We don’t have any of that. But we do have body consciousness issues that I think Europe and the UK lack. I have no idea about Oz and Kiwi-land.

  5. As Billy Connolly said… A lot of people say that it’s a lack of vocabulary that makes you swear. Rubbish. I know thousands of words but I still prefer “fuck”.

    I’m surprised that ‘wanker’ is used as much as it is over there. I think I’ve heard it more in films, chatrooms, and American articles than I have in public in this country. Pants just means rubbish; “that’s pants, that is” just means that you’re not impressed. Shirty means irritated or annoyed as in “Oi, calm down, don’t get shirty on me.”

    I can understand the N word being a big no-no over there given the social history. It doesn’t get used much over here for… to be honest, I don’t know. There was a time in the ’70s when there were some horrendously racist sitcoms but they’ve disappeared now.

    The gay related F word doesn’t fly here because a faggot is a meatball cooked in gravy and a fag is a slang word for a cigarette; if you were trying to cadge a cigarette off someone it was, might still be, quite acceptable to ask if you could “bum a fag”.

    I don’t think that it’s so much a case of being polite and queuing is being uptight. I think it’s just nicer and what we’re used to. As for the stiff upper lip well that could just be down to not blubbing all the time. It’s an American term though, if only there was an American handy for me to ask…

    And before you start looking too far into the Ozzie psyche just remember that’s where we used to send all our criminals so that’s quite a gene pool! Usually you’d apologise and say it only a joke at this point but most Australians I know would just say “Fair nuff, c*nt” and laugh it off.

    1. OK, I just watched the movie and it wasn’t raunchy at all. In fact, even with the subject matter I found it super charming.

      I tried to explain to some friends how a silver lining of CoVid is getting to watch all these indies, and how I saw a sweet little film about sibling incest. They looked askance and said, “Oh, right, you’re from Asheville.” Assuming living in the South leads to incest, which they figured was funny, but I felt was shirty (see what I did there?). I did feel strange describing Call Me Brother as sweet. But that’s I guess what makes this movie highly unusual.

      People just have to see it.

  6. A sweet little film about sibling incest sounds as good as a really informative clip on YouTube about making gloves out of kittens!

    Fortunately I’ve seen it and know exactly what you mean and agree that people would do themselves a favour by watching it.

    Yes I saw, have to start calling you the RunPee polyglot!

  7. More of a polymath than a polyglot, but I’ll take it!

    What did you think of the ending of Call Me Brother? You know, that one last thing that happened. Not to spoil anything.

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