Living an existence based on crime and violence inevitably leads to coming up against things like betrayal. The city of brotherly love is what people call Philadelphia. That is put to the test in Jeremie Guez’s (A Bluebird in My Heart) film. When he was 8-years-old Peter Flood (Nicholas Crovetti – from television’s Big Little Lies) saw his younger sister tragically killed by his neighbour’s reckless driving. Peter is racked with guilt and grief from that point on. His father’s way of dealing with it is seeking revenge on the man.
Three decades later Peter (Matthias Schoenaerts – The Danish Girl, Rust and Bone) still feels guilt over the death and his father’s revenge. Now at the age of 38, Peter is considering leaving the family business. His family is involved in crime. His pulling back leads to his cousin Michael (Joel Kinnaman – Suicide Squad, Robocop – 2014) gaining standing and power within the crime family. Both are stuck in the vortex of violence that has been the norm for the family for a long time. Neither can seem to break away.
Sometimes you can be armed with the best of weapons and yet still fail to attain your goal. Here we have a talented cast with Kinnaman and Schoenaerts along with a strong story. Yet it doesn’t add up here to a strong film. Brothers by Blood (also known as The Sound of Philadelphia) starts off with plenty of promise then devolves into a rather dull film. Turns into something as dreary as the darkness of the visuals and the seemingly always grey nature of the weather during the filming. That combined with the mess the story becomes in the second half of the film leads to a rather frustrating watch.
Almost equally frustrating is Schoenaerts’ performance. He spends most of the film either in sulky silence or mumbling his lines. For a story like this to succeed the viewer needs to feel the emotion the characters are going through. Unfortunately, this stays just out of reach. Intensity is required and not supplied. Leaving the story in a sort of suspended animation.