My Brother The Devil is a 2012 British social realist drama by writer/director Sally El Hosaini. In Hackney, London, Brothers Rashid and Mo, of Egyptian origin, try to resolve the contradictions of their lives as they move between their traditional family circle and the local drug-dealing gangs.
Rashid is involved in criminal activity, but helps fund younger brother Mo’s education, as he is determined that his sibling will escape gang culture. But Rashid’s life is about to change when he meets a successful photographer, and decides that he too wants something different from his current life.
The film won several awards at international film festivals, and arrived at the BBFC for classification with a 15 category request - distributors can ask for a particular age rating if they wish. The key classification issues for the BBFC were strong language, violence and hard drug use.
The strongest scene of violence is when two gangs fight in the street. In the melee a dog is stabbed and killed, and in revenge the man who killed the dog is stabbed in the chest and dies.
There is no sight of the blow to the dog, but it is seen lying on the ground with a puncture wound in its side. We briefly see the man stabbed; a wound is visible in his chest through his clothes, before he and the dog are then shown dead on the ground in pools of their own blood. The scene is strong and gory but it all happens very quickly, is without sadistic elements, and there is no dwelling on the infliction of pain and injury. The violence, although shocking, is therefore acceptably contained under BBFC Guidelines at 15. A man is also shot at one point in the film, and screams in agony, but this is only brief and not unduly gory.
With no detailed shots of the dog being stabbed there are also no reasonable grounds to suspect animal cruelty, which prohibits animals being made to suffer for the purposes of film making. If a scene is believed to contain animal cruelty, the BBFC asks the distributor to provide assurances as to the welfare of the animal when the film was shot. If the assurances do not prove satisfactory, then the animal cruelty will need to be cut by law from the film before a BBFC certificate can be issued.
Strong language (‘f***’ and its derivatives) begins with five uses in an early scene, with a total by the end of the film of over fifty, including three uses of 'motherf*****'. This level of strong language is allowed under BBFC Guidelines at 15. There are also uses of the homophobic terms 'homo', 'faggot' and 'batty boy', but these are clearly not endorsed by the film as whole, which ultimately presents a positive picture of what can be gained from accepting one's sexuality. Similarly, a few racist comments are also clearly disapproved of, and included to illustrate the types of attitudes and social contradictions that the brothers face. More moderate language includes the terms 'bitch' and ‘prick’.
Also category defining are several scenes of drug use. Characters smoke cannabis joints, and in one scene we see two young men packaging up white powder into small wraps and a woman snorting a line of drugs from a mirror. The film as a whole doesn't promote or encourage drug use however - quite the opposite, in fact, with drugs shown as cause of personal suffering, social deprivation and ultimately violence. The issue is therefore also well contained at the 15 determined by the strong violence and language.
Other issues include sex, and in particular a scene between Rashid and his girlfriend. There is some emphasis on sexual movement (such as thrusting), but it is reasonably restrained, with no clear nudity, and the scene is on the 12A/15 borderline.
The BBFCinsight states that My Brother The Devil contains strong language, violence and hard drug use. The film was selected for the National Youth Film Festival 2013.