Brotherly Loveby Wilson Morales
In Jamal Hill’s coming-of-age urban drama, Brotherly Love, themes of love, family, and trust are executed in a well-mannered way that could have easily been dismissed as a hodgepodge of melodrama storylines.
With a cast that includes familiar faces and newcomers from Cory Hardrict, Keke Palmer, Eric D. Hill Jr., Julito McCullum, Romeo Miller, Logan Browning, Quincy Brown, Faizon Love, Macy Gray, Justin Martin, Marc John Jefferies, Little JJ, Teyana Taylor and Malik Yoba, this ensemble film brings in enough elements from comedy to drama that it becomes a moving, enjoyable treat highlighted by surprising performances.
Set in West Philadelphia, there are two sides of the streets, “The Top” and “The Bottom.” Over at the Bottom, we’re introduced to the Taylor family, where big brother June (Hardrict) has been providing for the family, since the loss of their father, through illegal gains so that his younger brother and basketball star Sergio (Hill Jr.) can be the one that gets out the hood and be the star he was meant to be. Not only does he have to stay loyal to his brother, but he’s also facing pressure with from boys at school, on and off the court.
There’s also younger Jackie (Palmer) who’s going through that teenage adolescence when she meets up with Chris Collins (Brown), who’s has the looks and a car, and is the son of a record executive. He’s seems like the perfect guy, especially when he can arrange to help out with her music career, but there’s one issue. He’s from The Top, where he’s from a wealthy family and where’s there already beef with June and his crew from The Bottom after Chris’s cousin and his friends were murdered recently and suspicions fall on someone from The Bottom.
With an alcoholic mom (Macy Gray) who may or may not be conscious half the time, Sergio has to find a way to survive in a community littered by pressure from him succeed, drugs and violence. When an ongoing situation reaches a boiling point, it’s a question of whether of the right or wrong choices will be made.
What’s good about this indie film is that it gives a chance for Hardrict and Palmer to be leads. Palmer has been growing up before our eyes since Akelah and the Bee, and with this film, she’s still maturing with her performance. While he’s appeared in Hollywood films such as Battle LA and most recently Clint Eastwood’s Oscar nominated film, American Sniper, this film finally gives Hardrict a role which showcases his different range as an actor, going from a menacing gangster to caring brother, especially one emotional scene with Macy Gray. Solid from start to finish, hopefully others will give him better roles in other projects.
As for the newcomers, Eric D. Hill Jr. is also captivating as one of the leads. A new face on the screen, he held his own, even doing his own basketball scenes. Although he comes across as the pretty boy in the film that will have females oozing over him, there’s more to Quincy Brown outside the beauty. Beauty can get him in the door, but substance will keep him in, and he shows promise.
Produced and starring an African American cast and crew, Brotherly Love brings in similar themes that folks can relate to but at the same time has a universal appeal that many will appreciate.