My Brother's Wedding
NEW YORK -- The long belated rediscovery of pioneering filmmaker Charles Burnett continues with the first theatrical release of "My Brother's Wedding," a newly edited version of a film seen only briefly nearly a quarter-century ago. This 1983 effort, which falls between "Killer of Sheep" and "To Sleep With Anger" in Burnett's oeuvre, is not exactly a revelation, but it further demonstrates the filmmaker's ability to create sensitively wrought dramas that are realistic and poetic.
The film has been dramatically shortened since its debut at the New Directors/New Films Festival, and probably all to the better. Its simple story centers on Pierce Mundy (Everette Silas), a young South Central Los Angeles man who works alongside his stalwart mother (Jessie Holmes) at his family's dry cleaning shop.
Well-intentioned but clearly directionless in life, Pierce is resentful of his more successful brother (Monte Easter), who is about to be married to a snooty lawyer. Pierce has agreed to be his brother's best man, but his ability to live up to his commitment is threatened by the sudden death of his best friend Soldier (Ronald E. Bell), who had just been released from jail.
The rudimentary plot machinations are ultimately less compelling than the filmmaker's sympathetic portraits of his well-rounded characters. Both technically and dramatically, the film is more than a little crude, and the performances by the largely nonprofessional cast vary widely in impact. But "Wedding" ultimately has a quiet emotional power that makes one wish that the intervals between Burnett's works weren't so long.