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My Brothers -- Film Review

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Longtime Shane Meadows collaborator Paul Fraser makes his feature directing debut with "My Brothers," a small but scrappy road-tripper whose solid sense of place and sure-handed blend of poignancy and unsentimental humor should earn it fans on the arthouse circuit.

It's difficult to believe some in the cast are first-timers on camera, particularly Timmy Creed, whose performance as a teen struggling with survivor's guilt while his father dies is moving, even if he looks a bit older than the 17-year-old Noel he's playing.

Shot in County Cook, Ireland, the film follows Noel on an ill-advised quest to replace a cheap watch his dad once won at a seaside tourist town. "Borrowing" the bakery van he uses for a delivery route, Noel sets off with his two younger brothers, hoping to return before his mom and employer know he's gone. Alas, the piece-of-junk van isn't up for that degree of stealth or speed.

If the mission is a difficult one to believe (can Noel really not find a Casio digital watch closer to home?) and some of the complications a bit strained, the film is carried far by Noel's eponymous siblings: Paudie, a bespectacled fat kid given to making up vulgar songs and farting on cue, and Scwally, who wears a cape and carries a makeshift light saber wherever he goes.

Believably annoying in a barely lovable way, the kids make a fine loud counterpoint for the introspective Noel, whose desire to flee his home plays from the start as a wish born of pain, not a lack of familial love.

Fraser and screenwriter William Collins stick closely to the emotional map of the standard road film, with some of the beats coming more naturally than others. But Fraser gets his boots just deep enough in the Irish muck to quash any Hollywoodisms before they take hold.

Venue: Tribeca Film Festival
Production company: Rubicon Films
Cast: Timmy Creed, Paul Courtney, TJ Griffin, Kate Ashfield, Don Wycherley
Director: Paul Fraser
Screenwriter: William Collins
Producer: Rebecca O'Flanagan, Robert Walpole, Alan Maher
Director of photography: P.J. Dillon
Production designer: Mark Geraghty
Music: Gary Lightbody, Jacknife Lee
Costume designer: Lara Campbell
Editor: Emer Reynolds
Sales Agent: Josh Braun, Submarine Entertainment
No rating, 90 minutes