Marcel Rasquin’s Hermano (Brother) is an exceptional first feature and another gem in Music Box Theatre’s catalog of foreign films. A baby is found in a trash heap by a young mother and her son, in which they decide to take him and raise him as their own. Flash forward 16 years later and the two boys, Daniel (Fernando Moreno) and Julio (Eliú Armas) are inseparable and show an impressive knack for soccer. While Daniel dreams of becoming a professional player, Julio jumps back and forth between playing for the neighborhood team and consorting with the local drug dealers. After tragic accident that shocks the entire neighborhood, the boys’ dreams are tested, along with them confronting the harsh realities that exist within the world they live in. Hermano was selected as Venezuela’s entry to the 83rd Academy Awards and after seeing it, its easy to see why.
What makes Hermano such a great film is its sense of realism, not only in just its location, but the characters, camera work, writing and plenty of other things make the film feel truly genuine. A majority of the camera work is handheld, so that it makes you feel as though your right in the think of dealing with these characters lives. Most films set in a barrio in Caracas would focus on the gangs and negative aspects of the city and yet there is so much hope and joy coming from Hermano. Both Fernando and Eliú do a fantastic job as brothers and show off some real great talent, both on the field and as the two brothers, which attests to the dedication and talent that both they and director Marcel Rasquin have within them.
There are a few issues within the film, mainly due to a few sub-plots that ultimately go nowhere and other melodramatic events that happen, for the sake of making things a bit heaver handed. Some of the score is a bit awkward in a few scenes as well, especially during a pivotal soccer scene between the two brothers. Even with these minor and nitpicky issues, there are just too many great moments that feel so real and well done that I have no choice but to credit Rasquin for making a terrific film.
As a film about the love and strength in familial bonds, Hermano manages to deliver them in a compelling and wonder sports film. I look forward to the next feature that Marcel delivers, as well as the next hidden gem that Music Box Films uncovers next. Recommended!