Movie Review – Half Brother (Meio Irmão)
Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this review are solely those of Marlon Wallace and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of WBOC.
This is the feature debut of director Eliane Coster. It premiered at a 2018 film festival in Brazil. Yes, the director is a woman and the protagonist of this film is a woman, but the titular character is actually a young gay man. It’s good that this film makes its way to the United States during Pride Month, as it allows for a glimpse into the landscape of Brazil for certain LGBTQ people. The film is set in São Paulo, which is the largest city in the country and the fourth largest city in the world. It’s also home to the São Paulo Gay Pride Parade, the world’s largest gay pride parade, which occurs in the city’s downtown in the middle of where the most wealth and prosperity is.
However, this film doesn’t take place in the middle of all that wealth and prosperity. It instead seems to take place in the slums or the favelas outside the proper city limits. The experience of people in these favelas or these poorer areas might be different from those living in others. This might be endemic of another shocking statistic. While São Paulo and indeed Brazil are gay-friendly places, as of 2017, the country had the highest LGBT murder rate in the world. This is something that presumably Coster had in mind or even learned while she was making this film. It wouldn’t be until after she finished the film that the Brazilian Supreme Court would criminalize homophobia and make it akin to racism. Her film might have been completed before this fact, but the circumstances leading up to that court decision must have been something of which she was aware, which is probably why her film reflects the need for that court decision.
Diego Avelino plays Jorge, pronounced “George,” a young man who doesn’t seem to be in school but who might be a teenager or college-age. He lives with his single father who runs a security camera company. He also works with his father at that same company. They install and maintain security cameras for various homes and businesses throughout the city, including grocery stores and other places. His father tells him that he wants to open his own store someday soon, but Jorge reminds him that as a Black man, he’s not going to have much luck. Jorge is acutely aware of the level of bigotry or discrimination that he and his father will face as Black men in Brazil.
One night, Jorge hangs out with a group of his friends. A couple of them sneak off to make out in an alley. Jorge follows them and even records them kissing on his phone. It’s at that moment that he captures something horrible, an act that specifically the Brazilian Supreme Court would say is a hate crime. The rest of the film is Jorge having to reckon with his witnessing that act and what he decides to do and how it affects him. All of that though is just a backdrop to what the main story here is.