Movie Review: Brother


image courtesy of IMBd

Released in the USA in 1997, “Brother” is a gangster film following Danila Bagrov, a young man recently discharged from the Russian army. 

With nothing else to do, Danila goes to St. Petersburg to live with his brother Viktor, a gangster embroiled in conflict with other gangs. Viktor quickly starts putting Danila’s deadly combat skills to use. Danila also does typical young people things, like going to concerts and dating a girl. The film was directed by Aleksey Balabanov and produced in Russia.

“Brother” was a huge commercial success, becoming one of the most popular Russian films of the 90s. And yet, the film only cost 10,000 USD to make, resulting in a movie very distinct from what most people think of as a blockbuster film.

What makes “Brother” such an affecting film is its realness and releatability to its audience at the time. Post-Soviet Russia was not a fun place to be, and “Brother” very clearly communicates this feeling with the setting alone. 

The film is filled with dilapidated buildings and apartments, all shot on location in St. Petersburg. The film also shows racism, domestic abuse and homelessness not in a politically active way, but in an authentic, passive way.

However, “Brother” is not beloved for its direness alone. Danila, with his morals and love of music, serves as a hopeful figure for the audience to identify with, cutting through the cynicism. Not to mention the action elements, which are brief, yet visceral.

I would recommend “Brother” to anyone interested in Russian culture or how to fight the mob.

Rated 8/10.