Brothers and Sisters

Film

Thrillers

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>5</span>/5
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Time Out says

Prompted by the terrible murders of 'The Yorkshire Ripper' (and made before he was caught), this examination of contemporary sexual politics and violence is too simplistic by half. After a prostitute is murdered, two brothers (one apparently right wing, one left) are suspected, and the film investigates their attitudes towards women as police proceedings continue. Despite its obvious sincerity and ambitions, the film is wrecked by its half-hearted adherence to the thriller format (neither implicating its audience in the sadistic impulses behind voyeurism and film-watching, nor denying them that excitement by avoiding thriller-style scenes), by its schematic approach towards characterisation, and by its complacent sense of male guilt, simply asserting (in too direct a way) that all men are responsible for violence towards women.
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Release details

UK release:

1980

Duration:

101 mins

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LH

This film has just (April 2011) reappeared as part of a boxset of Woolley's films issued by the BFI. After receiving and watching the films myself, and then reading through the above review (one of the few contemporary negative ones I have found) , I am struck by the sense of almost personal outrage of the reviewer - perhaps due to his dislike of being held accountable (as a male) for what other men do in the name of masculinity. His review is of course merely his opinion, but it does not do justice to the film's originality, stylistic inventiveness and engaging combination of entertainment and social comment. He is also too hung up on the incestuous cinematic debates of that time rather than taking and reading the film on its own (rather than other people's) terms. Shot on location in Leeds at the time of the search for the Yorkshire Ripper, it is an unusual film in the sense that it entertains, involves and gives food for serious thought all at the same time. It is also (from the perspective of 2011) an insightful and accurate snapshot of life in late 1970s Britain, describing as it does three very different stratas of society: a well off upper middle class family with brother number one, an army colonel, at its head; the radical, politically correct communal household of brother number two; and the harsh reality of those (both black and white, male and female) scraping together a living on the city's less salubrious streets or, as in the case of one of the two sisters of the title, as a nanny to the colonel's children. The plot revolves around events leading up to and following the murder of a prostitute (the nanny's sister) and cleverly interweaves an investigation into possible perpetrators (including the two politically polarised brothers) with a gradual unravelling of what happened on the night itself. As the original poster to the film put it 'One man killed her, but all men were guilty' and, in the course of the film, male attitudes to women - from the apparently correct to the palpably incorrect and abusive - are put under Woolley's microscope. A film that is highly recommended and, as mantioned above, now available in a box set of Woolley's films issued by the British Film Institute and entitled 'An Unflinching Eye'. Get hold of it if you can.

LH

This film has just (April 2011) reappeared as part of a boxset of Woolley's films issued by the BFI. After receiving and watching the films myself, and then reading through the above review (one of the few contemporary negative ones I have found) , I am struck by the sense of almost personal outrage of the reviewer - perhaps due to his dislike of being held accountable (as a male) for what other men do in the name of masculinity. His review is of course merely his opinion, but it does not do justice to the film's originality, stylistic inventiveness and engaging combination of entertainment and social comment. He is also too hung up on the incestuous cinematic debates of that time rather than taking and reading the film on its own (rather than other people's) terms. Shot on location in Leeds at the time of the search for the Yorkshire Ripper, it is an unusual film in the sense that it entertains, involves and gives food for serious thought all at the same time. It is also (from the perspective of 2011) an insightful and accurate snapshot of life in late 1970s Britain, describing as it does three very different stratas of society: a well off upper middle class family with brother number one, an army colonel, at its head; the radical, politically correct communal household of brother number two; and the harsh reality of those (both black and white, male and female) scraping together a living on the city's less salubrious streets or, as in the case of one of the two sisters of the title, as a nanny to the colonel's children. The plot revolves around events leading up to and following the murder of a prostitute (the nanny's sister) and cleverly interweaves an investigation into possible perpetrators (including the two politically polarised brothers) with a gradual unravelling of what happened on the night itself. As the original poster to the film put it 'One man killed her, but all men were guilty' and, in the course of the film, male attitudes to women - from the apparently correct to the palpably incorrect and abusive - are put under Woolley's microscope. A film that is highly recommended and, as mantioned above, now available in a box set of Woolley's films issued by the British Film Institute and entitled 'An Unflinching Eye'. Get hold of it if you can.