Here is a film that a friend of mine recommended that I watch since I am a fan of Blaxploitation films (another story). Together Brothers is classic tale of brotherhood, sexuality, class, race, and gender. Thirty-eight years later this film is still very much relevant.
Together Brothers is a drama filled, gritty film that offers a portrayal of ghetto life within the wave of the 1970s Blaxploitation era. Set in Galveston, Texas a teenage gang comprised of Blacks and Chicanos, ‘the Brothers’ learn that a police officer, Mr. Kool (Ed Bernard), who was seen as a mentor has been found brutally murdered. The twist of the movie is that the only witness is the leader’s 5-year old brother who becomes mute due to what he has seen. As a result of this crime, the group lead by H.J. (Ahmad Nurradin) sets on a mission to track down those responsible for the murder of the popular police officer, as well protecting his little brother from any further harm.
Together Brothers is a sympathetic film that explores ghetto life, from various perspectives. On one end you feel a since of anger for what is seen as a senseless murder, and then there is a torn feeling of sadness and what is considered fair treatment towards a human being. When all else fails whom does one depend on for compassion and safety, their family and or their community? But what if neither is available?
Together Brothers is not only a film that provides an intriguing story full of twists and surprises, but a naturalistic amateur cast. Director William Graham was brilliant for choosing a group of young, inexperienced actors to help make this picture more authentic and effective. H.J. (Ahmad Nurradin) offers an engaging mix of resourcefulness and bravery as the gang’s leader and Tommy (Anthony Wilson) delivers a marvelously expressive turn without any dialogue as the little brother who witnesses the murder. In addition to the younger cast members, adult cast members Ed Bernard is both charming and authoritative as the police officer that the kids secretly admire; and Glynn Turman who although has a brief role plays a vividly drawn and compelling doctor who tries to lend a helping hand to the film’s ‘hero’. Marking the first appearance of a transgender person of color in a motion picture, the character of Billy Most (Lincoln Kilpatrick) is presented as your typical deranged and “confused” murderer trope-type character. (S)he is essentially viewed by the neighborhood as a insignificant individual who committed a crime of murder, seemingly for no reason. Each character in their own unique and clever way draws you in with their credible and expressive performances.
As one watches this film, you realize that this intense, urban crime drama opens a serious dialogue regarding self-identity, sexuality, brotherhood, and embracing childhood even when it is viciously taken. This film, content wise, could even still be relevant in 2012 as it also addresses issues of police brutality, class, urbanization, and racial conflict. Even though Together Brothers is considered a Blaxploitation film it does bend the rules of the typical format by ushering a challenging story with characters that are actually allowed to be people instead of one-dimensional, overly-violent or sexualized caricatures. Imagine a film that truly allows for feelings of happiness and sadness from real people, here is a film that does just that.
All in all, Together Brothers is a film that offers an unusual mix social commentary, a street-wise story, and a soulful soundtrack. Some may even say this film was ahead of its time considering it discussed such issues as homosexuality and transgenderism. As a whole, this film is a well-crafted hidden gem that is worthy of rediscovery from fans of the Blaxploitation film era and those interested in a complex, daring and provocative narrative.
Rating: 8 out of 10 stars
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