Call 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.
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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