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A teenage girl, Jessica, befriends a teenage boy called Tom, who is bullied by a local gang. She is abused by Jack, who is both her neighbour and school teacher, and Tom is sexually abused by his father. Together they bond in the woods, creating a private reality that no-one else can enter. Written by
Gabriel Jones <email@example.com>
'No worst, there is none; pitched past pitch of grief.'
'Teenage love is rarely this painful.' said the blurb outside the cinema. 'My Brother Tom' is a film full of pain and sadness. This film has not been written for fun, as entertainment, nor as a job of work, but has been wrenched out of the reality of someone's suffering. It shows life from the perspective of a child who has experienced and seen things more painful than her tender years can accommodate. But it does not leave one without hope. The director has been courageously faithful to the script and the challenging roles are fulfilled without self-consciousness. The film bears a degree of honesty that is rarely seen in life, let alone on screen, and perhaps for some viewers it will be too much. 'Man cannot bear too much reality'. It also carries an exhilarating sense of freedom - the two children have been let down by society, and understandably and with true childlike spirit they abandon it. They choose for their home the 'good wood', and the film's sense of hope comes from nature. Society may be 'f***** up', but mother nature is a refuge, full of nurture and protection and love.
Theologically speaking - for though in a sense iconoclastic the film is not secular - it is the product of an age in which the Church has become a shrine to its own conventions, and has lost sight of the 'living spirit' which was once its source. Thus far from being offensive to the religious, 'My Brother Tom' is on the side of the Spirit, desperately wanting to resurrect the Spirit from the sepulchre of conventional 'religion'.
As for the hand held camera, I did not once find it an irritation or a distraction, as I did occasionally, for example, in 'Festen'. On the contrary, it suited the film, adding to its wildness and immediacy in a way I never really believed that this technique could.
If you regard film as primarily for relaxation and entertainment, this is clearly not a film for you. If, however, you are someone ready to wrestle with all the truth and pain that this world holds, and if you regard film as a fit medium for this wrestling, then do not miss 'My Brother Tom'.
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