Film Review: BROTHERHOOD (Canada 2019)

Brotherhood Poster

In 1926, a band of teenage boys arrive at Long Point Camp for the adventure of their lives. When their canoe capsizes in a freak summer storm, their holiday descends into a soul-shuddering fight for survival.

Director:

Richard Bell

Writer:

Richard Bell

In 1926, a band of teenage boys arrive at Long Point Camp for the adventure of their lives. When their canoe capsizes in a freak summer storm, their holiday descends into a soul-shuddering fight for survival.

How many and who survives will add in to the film’s suspense.

Based on the harrowing true story that made newspaper headlines across North America in the 1920s, Brotherhood is a taut survival from a bristling piece of Canadian history.  The boys are under the charge of Great War veterans, Arthur (Brendan Fletcher) and Robert (Brendan Fehr) have their own approach to educating and nurturing these boys who are pugnacious with raw personalities.  Arthur and Robert set off across the lake in a thirty-foot Indian war canoe with the unofficial band of brother’s leader Waller and ten of his companions.  (Yes, unlucky 13 in all).  When they encounter a freak summer storm and are capsized in the middle of the churning lake, the brotherhood’s holiday descends into a soul-shuddering fight for survival.

The Brotherhood of St. Andrew leadership group in the movie was out of St. James’ Cathedral in downtown Toronto. The film provokes conversations about thinking less for ourselves, and more for our tribe. A story about bravery, sacrifice, and selflessness.

Despite the earnest intentions of director Bell and the fact that Bell insists that this is a story that needs be told, BROTHERHOOD is a pretty bad movie.  The canoe capsizes in the dark in the middle of the night in the lake.  The scene look like some amateur staging in someone’s backyard pond.  The majority of the shots are close-outs without a realistic look of the landscape.  The film is filmed in non-chronological order.  The first time, the scene appears with the boys struggling in the water, one wonders what has happened.  The decision to film in this order is also a bad one.  It removes the suspense when intercut with scenes before an after the catastrophe.

The lack on material is clear with scenes like Lamden does push-ups   The boys also reminisce of past memories which are likely made up for the film.

The film lacks suspense, thrills or any realistic drama.  The drama on display appear staged and seem unbelievable at best.

The stories of the background of the boys are barely interesting and serve as a time waster.

BROTHERHOOD is very much a male movie.  The only female presence is the mother of one of the more troubled boys, seen only in the film’s flashbacks.  Boys do what they do in thee movie – argue and fight; do sports; and challenge authority.  The young actors do a good job despite the limited material.

Closing credits inform that Balsam Lake was dragged and all the bodies of the dead boys wee found.  Butcher and Lamden wee declared heroes.

The only thing commendable about BROTHERHOOD is the beautiful country landscapes of Ontario, captured in all their beauty by cinematographer Adam Swica and shot on First nations land in Ontario.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Zcd9_MgqKaM

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