Sunday, January 09, 2005

Brother to Brother

I went to see the film Brother to Brother last night. It was cute. I don't mean "cute" in the way a little girl with ribbons in her hair is cute. I don't mean "cute" in the catty way some of us mean, "It really was nothing special." I mean "cute" as in "worth the effort" or "thought-provoking." (One word can have so many connotations, and without the voice inflection and body language....)

I enjoyed seeing the Director's vision of the Harlem Renaissance brought to life. In fact, i think that was the most valuable aspect of the movie. As told from Richard Bruce Nugent's perspective, the Harlem Renaissance becomes the mirror in which Perry Williams (the central character, played by Anthony Mackie) views his world.

Brother to Brother is about one black gay man's journey to find meaning in his relationships. Whether it is with his straight friend or a white sex partner or his father or himself, Perry is challenged to explore questions of identity, sexuality, and race. But his most meaningful and enlightening relationship, the one that becomes truly transformative for him, is born when he meets Bruce Nugent.

Giving Perry glimpses into his own past with Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and the like, Bruce (played expertly by Roger Robinson) is the one who holds the historical mirror for Perry to gaze into. Ultimately, Perry must find himself somewhere at the nexus of his relationships with other people, with his past, and with the rich legacy of the Harlem Renaissance that is revealed to him.

If you haven't seen it yet, be sure to watch for an appearance near you. The movie will also be available on DVD in June and an "edited-for-television" version will air on PBS sometime this year.

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