My Brothers and I (Mes Frères et Moi)
Another spectacular admission to the Un Certain Regard section is Yohan Manca’s Mes Frères et Moi. The story follows Nour (Maël Rouin Berrandou), a 12 or 13-year-old boy living in the south of France with his three older brothers: the eldest and domineering but protective Abel (Dali Benssalah), the ripped lothario Mo (Sofian Khammes) and rebellious and irreverent Hédi (uncredited). Their father has passed away and their mother is on life support; much to the dismay of their uncle, they keep her at home and pool whatever money they can to pay for her care. It is the summer holidays and Nour is painting his school as part of community service whilst other activities are being held in the building.
Nour hears the powerful voice of Pavarotti and is immediately entranced, playing the music repeatedly for his mother. He establishes that the sound came from a singing class held by lauded opera singer Sarah (Judith Chemla) and a discovery of talent begins. He balances his sometimes bullying brothers, community service duties and care for his mother with his new passion, and Sarah becomes set on expanding Nour’s talent. Whilst this goes on, Nour’s three brothers have their own worries, from the care of their mother to drug dealing and their sexuality. Abel disapproves of Nour’s new hobby and pressures him to get a real job to pay for their mother’s medication but it doesn’t discourage Nour nor Sarah. The film jumps from moments of anger, hostility and brutality to lighthearted and tender comedy, emulating the constantly changing mood of a house full of family.
The acting from the four leads is outstandingly human and naturalistic. Khammes earned a round of applause at the Cannes première for a stomach-achingly hilarious scene in which he tries to flirt with an older, wealthy Dutch woman. His performance as the dumb, narcissistic but ultimately sweet and caring Mo is, without a doubt, the highlight of the film, along with the work of breakout talent Berrandou as both singer and actor. Chemla emulates the perfect mentor for Nour as the distant but passionate teacher, never trying to step into maternal shoes but always feeling so much for her passion and the talent of others.
One of the most human, tender and comedic films at Cannes this year with outstanding acting – definitely a strong contender for the Jury Prize.
My Brothers and I (Mes Frères et Moi) does not have a UK release date yet.
Read more reviews from our Cannes Film Festival 2021 coverage here.
For further information about the event visit the Cannes Film Festival website here.
Watch the trailer for My Brothers and I (Mes Frères et Moi) here: