Winner of the Audience Award at both the Los Angeles Latino and the Moscow Film Festivals, the 2010 acclaimed Venezuelan film Hermano finally drops on DVD. Upon doing some initial research of the film online I discovered that many have incorrectly labeled this film as another clichéd sports picture, but believe me when I say that it is anything but.
Hermano opens with a mother and her infant child walking in Caracas and discovering a baby abandoned in a heap of trash. Flash forward in time 16 years where the mother has raised both boys as siblings. Playing together on the neighborhood soccer team, they are the best players in the area. Following a playoff win, a scout from Caracas FC invites them both to a tryout with the team. Daniel (Fernando Moreno), an innocent and studious boy, is hugely motivated to fulfill his lifelong dream. Julio (Eliu Armas) seems content to work as a low-level enforcer in a local drug gang. When a tragic event occurs both brothers are forced to evaluate their situation and make life-changing decisions.
First-time director Marcel Rasquin captures the audience with a grainy picture providing a gritty, realistic feel to the streets of Caracas. Fernando Moreno gives an amazing performance as the strong yet fragile Daniel caught between his dream and Julio's connection to the drug gang. One could say that Hermano is a bit like the film City of God, except with more soccer. The conclusion does revolve around a championship game which you could argue is a conventional ending to any sports film, but what occurs following the game is downright shocking and will hit you like a ton of bricks.
Hermano is only available on DVD which is probably a good choice since the rough handheld filmmaking wouldn't really lend itself to Blu-Ray. The audio commentary track with director Marcel Rasquin is a bit dry, but it was fairly interesting to hear him talk in detail about numerous casting decisions. Also included is a short sit-down interview with Rasquin, but I was unable to take anything from it since it was conducted without subtitles. This was a bit puzzling since I had just listened to him provide commentary in English. Regardless, this is a must-see for fans of foreign films and soccer afficionados alike.