Call Me Brother: Review

Call Me Brother: Review

Call Me Brother is a coming-of-age comedy about incest, puberty and teenage sexual awakening. Lisa and Tony are a brother and sister who grew up separately because of their divorced parents and when they are reunited for the summer as teenagers, they grow closer than ever before. This is an independent film written by, and staring, comedian/actress Christina Parrish. David Howe makes his full-length feature directorial debut.

Beyond the uncomfortable theme of prepubescent incest, the idea of childhood trauma is also explored. We gradually learn that the siblings’ parents’ had a volatile relationship that resulted in a hateful divorce, and the film suggests that perhaps Lisa and Tony’s confused understanding of love is a consequence of this. This endeavour to investigate such a complex and raw topic is commendable. Unfortunately, it feels as though this film is too wrapped up in giving shock-value and dirty jokes to allow it’s more poignant message to come to the forefront.

Parrish – who in real life is an adult woman – is completely believable as a sheltered 16 year old girl, on the younger side of puberty. SNL’s Andrew Dismukes also convincingly portrays the awkwardness of a teenage boy. Together their brother and sister chemistry makes for the most childlike and unsexy romantic leads on the planet. There are times where their innocent playfulness is endearing to watch, until it is ruined by a sexually explicit act.

Despite the low budget of this indie film, the production value is good. The cinematography and editing is all to a professional standard. Moreover, the colourful design palette mixed with the trashy set is a juxtaposition that suits the overall theme of childlike love and cheap sex.

Lastly, the dialogue is incredibly awkward and lame but perhaps on purpose to reflect the uncomfortable experience of being a teenager. However, this is extremely painful and unenjoyable to listen to for an hour and a half.

In all, Call Me Brother successfully captures the painful struggle of puberty and teenage sexuality. It’s also brave in its venture to unpick the complexity of incest and the repercussions of dysfunctional parental relationships. But there are few with the stomach to truly enjoy exploring these concepts for the length of a feature film. So, despite some of its admirable intentions, Call Me Brother is thoroughly unenjoyable, at times unbearable, and generally hard to watch. Also, unless you’re into crude humour, this film is not laugh-out-loud comedy. Consider yourself warned. 

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Bella is an actress, singer, scriptwriter, theatre producer and blogger living in London, hailing from Melbourne Australia. Her favorite films are Almost Famous and The Princess Bride, and loves all things Hitchcock and Marilyn Monroe.


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