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Brothers of the Head

Film Three Stars

While at the EIFF this year I was reporting for two sites, not only Filmstalker but also Twitch. Unfortunately I've been a bit held back completing the reviews so this one is a bit late, but for me Brothers of the Head defines Twitch and the kind of film that they ask me to see for them.

It's a bizarre film, and an extremely strange concept. Siamese twins who are joined at the stomach are snapped up by a producer who then grooms them for rock and roll stardom. What follows is the study of their change, from normal brothers to rock and roll stars and all the that the stardom brings, sex, drugs, and fame itself.

BrothersoftheHead.jpgThe film opens in a style befitting the piece, it's very cinematic and looks like a moody horror film, and quite quickly you realise why. The opening hints at the darkness of the story to come, and then changes quite rapidly and takes a different turn. The idea that this is a film that is examining the "true story" of the brothers through the eyes of those involved, a documentary that was filmed at the time and also the dramatised film of the book which is being directed by Ken Russell. All this enriches the tale and adds to the feeling of reality.

However that feeling is briefly interrupted early on in the film as some of the performances seem slightly stilted and almost trying too hard to sound natural and feel like real footage. This is especially apparent in a few scenes that are played for shock or surprise. This quickly disperses, and perhaps the disappearance of this feeling is more down to being absorbed by film and the characters than anything else.

After the opening, the story continues on quite lightly and there are a few laughs, but a darker more sombre tone starts to creep back into the movie and this grows as the brothers delve more into the rock and roll world fuelled by drink and drugs.

The increased drug use and growing rift between the brothers is obvious to see, and this rift grows wider as they grow more sexually active. It's an interesting character change to watch and the two actors portray it well, the descent towards self destruction is played well and throughout they retain this downtrodden and used quality.

The actors who play the twins, Harry and Luke Treadway, are only surpassed by Bryan Dick as their musical teacher and bassist and Sean Harris as the Manager. Both turn in strong performances, and it's Harris who provides the best as he splits his character between the seventies and the present day, his present day side showing a nervousness and mental scarring that wasn't there in the seventies side. It's interesting watching these two performances together, and there's no doubt he's a great actor after watching them.

That takes me to the mixing of the characters in the seventies and present day, as well as the portrayal of the seventies itself. So often the seventies can look cheesy and false, just as the eightes do, but here they've kept a strong balance with recreating the seventies without taking you out of the movie and concentrating on the bad hair or dress sense. I find this is always a problem in films that look back, there's always the danger of being hit with nostalgia and being mesmerised by the wrong details.

The characters themselves are matched between these two times very well, you can believe that the actors playing the older characters were the actors you see playing the characters in the seventies, they look worn and wiser, and there seems to have been great care taken over this.

So apart from the unusual aspect of the Siamese Twins, this is a strong tale of how two brothers are harmed by fame and fortune, and beneath that is the added connection between them that threatens to self destruct one, and so the other.

Late on in the film there's a short exploration of why one of the brothers is so self destructive and negative while the other appears quite creative and level headed, unfortunately I do think this was pushed to the side to keep the pace of the story going. What would have worked is if this was introduced a little earlier and there was more time to spend on it. I am deliberately not mentioning what it is I'm talking about so that there isn't anyone out there hit with a big spoiler.

The ending of the film was good, although in keeping with what I mentioned above, it does seem rather hurried, and realistic character choices are thrown out the window at the end as it appears everyone stands back and stops caring about them. I'm not so sure that dramatically this was the right choice, however it does fly by and before you know it you've come to the conclusion of the tale. All that said, it was still an interesting ending to the film which matched the darkness and bizarreness of the tale.


UK IMDB Film Details
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