VIFF 2021 Review: Brother’s Keeper

Written by Alexander Reams


There is a bond between friends, stronger than steel. This bond, under the right circumstances, can become even stronger. When friends seem to become brothers. Such is the case for Yusuf, played adequately by Samet Yildiz, who has to become an advocate for his “brother” Memo, played by Nurullah Alaca, in what will be remembered as a glorified cameo role. Memo becomes deathly ill. Yildiz deals with the bureaucracy within the boarding school for Kurdish boys in Eastern Anatolia. Memo and Yusuf’s age is never specified, but it appears they are around middle school age. Yusuf is continually hindered until the adults finally realize the severity of Memo’s illness, and by then it is too late to save him. 

Ferit Karahan’s voice is fairly new to the film world and he is seemingly still trying to find his style. His technique is mostly composed of static shots while characters flatly deliver the lines that Karahan and co-writer Gülistan Acet conceived. Their script is full of fantastic motifs and ideas. Due to the actor’s inability to execute the material, the film sputters when it should soar. A common issue with working with predominantly young actors. This also extends to the adult actors as well, instead of being this force standing in the way of Yildiz, they are this bumbling arrangement of people who come off as having no idea what is going on.

This script is fantastic, full of subtle nuances that want to propel the film but Karahan failed greatly in his casting. Asiye Kocaman and Gözde Elmas were the chosen casting directors of the film Combined with the, quite frankly, boring shot composition, a  lack of craftsmanship and an understanding of blocking shots hindered the cinematographer Türksoy Gölebeyi from conveying the terror, frustration, and helplessness of Yusuf”s plight. Topped with the poor acting and misunderstanding of the text, it’s the cherry on top of an already mediocre film.

Brother’s Keeper Trailer

Brother’s Keeper was screened as part of the 2021 edition of the Vancouver International Film Festival.

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