"Bittersweet Revenge"

by Quiavious Wainwright

Today, black youth are searching for a film that accurately represents their real life struggles like movies such as Boyz N The Hood, Juice, and Menace II Society did in the 90s. In 2015, Brotherly Love was released and word on the street was that we were finally getting what we were waiting for. Although it was more of a tribute than a true window to life as a black youth in 2015, Brothely Love explored a range of conflicts that black inner-city youth must face on a day-to-day basis. Brotherly Love is a film about a family headed by an overprotective drug dealer brother, with two siblings who are chasing their own dreams. As the younger siblings are chasing their dreams they must dodge the bullets that are thrown their way due to the lifestyle their older brother, June, lives. Throughout the movie, Jackie, played by child star Keke Palmer, struggles to keep her personal life separate from her family life. Jackie knew never to bring a boy home because not only was being the only girl in the family a pain, she never knew who had beef with June. However, Jackie soon fell deeply in love with Chris, played by Quincy Brown, who was from the “Hill”, the place that her brother and her hood was in a war with.  Overall, the movie itself is entertaining and shows how revenge is always promised and comes when we least expect it.

Set in West Philadelphia, a geographic region notoriously known for being drug ridden and plagued by violent crime the film does accurately represent the struggles of being affiliated with someone whose karma is waiting to catch up to him. June’s past comes back to haunt him when he is shot and killed by someone his own sister brought into his inner circle. The movie does a great job leading to this big finale. The ending is totally unexpected but is actually an “OH YEAH!” moment when you piece it all together. Though the movie can feel artificial at the beginning, it does a great job at conveying its overarching theme.

This film, being an appeal to 21st century black youth resonates because it directly deals with what we are going through. Jackie and her twin brother, Sergio, seem to have it together but behind closed doors they deal with the backlash of being connected to a well-known drug lord. Being from the inner-city of Memphis, TN and growing up around drugs and violence, I was essentially able to connect to the movie on a much more profound level than most of the critics. I have first handedly watched how drug culture consumes someone’s life, although, more times than not, it has been their only option to survive. Then, as a consequence to this lifestyle, just like June in Brotherly Love, I have witnessed people close to me lose their lives.

Film director Jamal Hill was just the right man to write and direct this movie. Raised in Philadelphia, Hill has experience dealing with the culture and people of Philly. In other words, Brotherly Love may have been the embodiment of Hill’s childhood. Not only is he familiar with the culture of the plot, he is also known for his work dealing with the dynamics of black life. From his direction of the small film, Money, Power, Respect to his casting in New Jack City: The Next Generation, Jamal Hill’s expertise is evident.

This film would be classified as a realistic fiction meaning that this particular situation might not be true, however, it can definitely happen. The author was aiming to showcase the real life struggles of black youth in 2015. One thing that was not very realistic, in terms of street etiquette was when June was robbed and his mother was shot yet they allowed him to live only because his fate was sealed by other people. Although that could very well happen, more times than not in serious altercations over drugs in these inner-city neighborhoods, June would not have typically lived.

Although the cute home girls, shady drug dealers, and “get it by any means” prototypes are present throughout the movie, I don’t believe the word on the street was correct. Brotherly Love was a great movie, however, it did not fulfill the shoes of its predecessors in the 90s. June could never be a Doughboy, Bishop, or a Juice. Our actions will always have a consequence, and if we live our lives with malice in our hearts we must remember that revenge is always promised. This film did an exceptional job at conveying its theme. A step in the right direction, Brotherly Love is a stepping stone to the representation of the new black youth.