Blending fluid handheld realism with undertones of myth, Fratricide unsentimentally explores the tension between tradition-bound tribalism and modern Western individualism. Teenage Azad (Celik) and even younger Ibo (Gectan), Kurdish immigrants living in Germany, become involved in a violent street incident with a Turkish gang led by a pair of brothers, triggering an old-school ethnic blood rivalry that has predictably tragic consequences. Its pervasive sense of menace letting up only for a half-baked detour into romance and a liberating blast of hand-drawn animation, Turkish-born director Yilmaz Arslan’s third film favors taut action over smug speechifying—a scene of Azad’s older brother, a pimp, slapping around one of his prostitutes is an effectively grisly distillation of the movie’s grim and grimy view of Germany’s immigrant lumpenproletariat.
Elsewhere, Arslan’s penchant for brutality yields mixed results: Fratricide really could have done without the anal-rape scene, but a memorable bit involving a bullet wound and a hungry pit bull is even further over-the-top—and pretty hilarious. Ultimately the movie is less disturbing for its casual violence than for a slowly building sense that the social problems on display may be insoluble. Mistrustful of politics without lapsing into cynicism, Fratricide exudes a bracingly contemporary sense of genuine uncertainty. (Now playing; Film Forum.) — Joshua Land