The Guardian

You and me against the world

drama jumps forward 10 years, to the more washed-out environs of downtown Scarborough, Toronto, where Michael meets Aisha (Kiana Madeira) and takes her back to the apartment he still shares with his mother. A former sweetheart (flashbacks show Michael’s affections dating back 20 years), Aisha is dealing with recent bereavement, and has come back to the place she once called home. Francis is nowhere to be seen, although quite why is a mystery that the movie reveals only very gradually.

Adapted from a novel by David Chariandy, Brother flits back and forth in time, dipping in and out of the lives of its central characters, watching the family grow and fall apart in non-linear fashion. At times the dreamy, meditative visuals put me in mind of Barry Jenkins’s Oscar-winning Moonlight, another coming-of-age tale built around disparate timeframes and temporal lapses. There’s something quietly insistent about the way cinematographer Guy Godfree’s floating cameras are always pushing into or pulling out of the widescreen frame, as if directing our attention toward some piquant unseen detail, or discreetly stepping back to avoid intruding on the characters.

Scenes of Ruth leaving her young children at home while she goes out to work night shifts deftly establish the harsh reality of her single-mother circumstance – a reality explicitly clarified when Aisha later tells Michael that “our immigrant parents cleaned toilets and cared for other people’s