THE BLOOD OF MY BROTHER goes behind the scenes of one Iraqi family's struggle to survive amidst the carnage of the growing Shia insurgency. Nineteen-year-old Ibrahim dreams of revenge when his brother is shot and killed by an American patrol. With scenes of fighting and death on the streets of Baghdad, this is the closest most viewers will ever come to being in Iraq; kneeling in prayer amidst a thousand Muslim worshipers, feeling the roar of low-flying Apaches, riding atop a sixty-ton tank, driving with masked resistance fighters to attack American positions, fleeing the threat of an overwhelming response, the blood in the street, a tank on fire, or the cold, distant stare of a dead Iraqi fighter. Written by
Although Andrew Berends was unable to piece together a compelling storyline from the footage he shot in Iraq, the footage often speaks for itself.
With incredible access into the lives of Iraqi Shiites during six crucial months in 2004, Berends shows scenes of turmoil from a variety of different perspectives -- the grieving family of a young man who was accidentally shot by US troops, an anti-American rally led by Moqtada al-Sadr, American soldiers on patrol, and Mehdi Army insurgents firing on the Americans. Many of the scenes are harrowing. Put together, these scenes don't add up to a comprehensive picture of Iraq that makes any sense, but this problem has plagued nearly all coverage of the Iraq War. The war itself makes very little sense.
Unfortunately, the film focuses too closely on Ibrahim, the younger brother of a slain Iraqi civilian. He's a petulant and unsympathetic figure, and it was probably a mistake to build a full-length feature film around his story. "Blood of My Brother" works best when Berends wades into the chaos of Baghdad's streets and lets the events speak for themselves.
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