Despite being wrung with some fairly predictable clichès Netflix’s new French Drama, ‘Mon frère’, portrays an emotional story of chavs, who struggle to find their place in the world. Directed by Julien Abraham, the film takes a “cause and effect” approach where most of the characters are forced to suffer from consequences of the actions of their past.
With this, it also aims at drawing a realistic picture of minors who end up in an unforgiving world of crime. Its entire storyline is predominantly driven by its characters and all of its events lead up to a heart-rending ending. The ending is neither too abrupt, nor is it too subtle with what it tries to portray, so we’ll be further discussing the journey that leads up to the final moments of the film. Moreover, we’ll also be exploring the poignant themes of the film in context with its characters.
WARNING SPOILERS AHEAD!
After being accused of the murder of his father, Teddy ends up in a Closed Correctional Facility, where other young minors like him get the opportunity to “reform” themselves before they end up in prison. To avoid any further trouble, Teddy keeps his head low and intentionally outcasts himself from the group of white boys at the facility. But despite this, he is often picked on; especially by Enzo, who is another young aggressive delinquent.
But soon, Enzo ends up losing his hold as a leader, and just like Teddy, he, too, becomes a victim of bullying and abuse from the other boys. Teddy takes his side and an unlikely friendship blooms between the two. Together, they decide to escape the harsh realities of the Correctional Center where nothing is under control and set out on a journey to seek a better life. Unfortunately, Teddy’s past is far too impactful and he won’t be breaking free from it any time soon.
The Ending: “Hate Engenders Hate”
On paper, ‘Mon Frere’ is just another film that explores the harsh realities of minors who are being protected by Correctional facilities and are trying to reform them so that they don’t end up in prison later on. But on a deeper level, it’s all about the depiction of a grim topic: the rhetoric of hate. The entire film has been structured in such a way that it reflects on a series of events that show how hate ends up consuming almost all of the characters. With an almost stoic demeanor, Teddy, the main character, surrenders himself to the justice system and accepts his fate at the Correctional Center he is sent to. With flashbacks, the film explores all the events that led him there and also explains the reason behind his silence.
At the same time, we also understand the motives and the pasts of all the other characters who ended up on the wrong side of the road. While some of them still hope for a better life and are willing to be better humans, others have completely given in to their harsh realities and believe that the only way they can survive in this world is by projecting their own violence and hate on others.
Teddy ends up in the correctional facility for the murder of his violent father, but in the final moments of the movie, it is revealed that it was his younger brother who had actually shot their father. Just to protect his little brother, he took the entire blame for the crime and ended up at the correctional facility. Being the only black boy at the Detention Center, he is often ridiculed for his silence and is even referred to as “Negro” by other white French boys. This is when Mo, another black boy, ends up in the Closed Facility and starts encouraging him to stand up against his bullies.
There’s a scene where Mo describes how his own parents used to always beat him when he was a child and how he later ended up projecting all of that rage on the streets. This explains why Mo later ends up dominating everyone in the facility, including the Mentors. After being treated ruthlessly by his own parents, he has developed a deranged sense of power where he will go to the most extreme measures just to be a leader. And when he realizes that Enzo is the so-called leader there, he even tries to violently assault him just to prove that he stands above him. He later even ends up boldly humiliating one of the Mentors at the Correctional Center and that’s when almost all the other boys start looking up to him.
Even Teddy gets consumed in his own hate after spending time with Mo, but he eventually has his catharsis when he realizes that he does not belong in this brutal world. He realizes that just because he ended up there, it does not mean that he like the rest of the boys at the Center. When Mao asks him to shoot a video of Enzo while he assaults him, Teddy initially does take a video but is eventually disturbed by all of it and even ends up saving him. This is when he decides to join forces with his sworn enemy, Enzo, and the two of them decide to run away. Enzo, for the most part, comes off as a typical delinquent who is looking for trouble all the time and will fight anyone who tries to question him. He even gives Teddy a hard time during his first few days.
But then, with a twist in his fate, he loses his hold as a leader and that’s when we get to see a more subdued side of him. It is later revealed that he, too, had a very rough past and grew up as an orphan. His hate grew inside him, blinded him and eventually forced him to develop a brash exterior no one would mess with. The weight of his hate grows so heavy inside him that he almost ends up killing Mo, but is somehow stopped by Teddy.
In the final moments of the film, Teddy and his younger brother do find their way to their mother. But again, Teddy’s heart is filled with rage and loathe when he finds out that his mother is pregnant. All this while, he believed that their mother only left because she was trying to protect them and herself from their violent father. But after realizing that she “abandoned” them just to protect her unconceived daughter, he feels betrayed.
His faith in the world further breaks when his brother refuses to leave with him. In the end, filled with regret, he completely breaks down and almost ends up killing himself. Due to the early actions of their father, both and Teddy and his brother ended up emulating him in one way or the other. The movie finally ends with a tragic portrayal of the boy’s mental state where he still struggles to find his place in the world. And if you think about it, he has always been innocent and only ended up being a victim of the mistakes of the people around him.
Read More: ‘Mon frère’ Review