Brotherly Lies

"Something in me, dark and sticky . . . " - Peter Gabriel

Dark and complex, leave it to writer/director Mark Schwab (Crisis Hotline) to bring the tragedy of one too many lies to a rather opulent vacation home.  He absolutely delivers the drama when characters - here, it is two brothers - have nowhere else to turn and must face their fears.  While the beauty of this Northern California home is impressive, it is the breakdown which we should focus on . . . 

"Full of great dialogue, an incredible set-up, and impressive cinematography"

A lot has happened over the summer . . . including a nervous breakdown and a suicide attempt.  The Hollywood Hustle is real, y’all.  Just ask Lex, who sits at the center point between art and appropriation.  Brotherly Lies is an impressive ensemble of one-sided attractions and literal dark settings full of exposed truths.  There is much to appreciate here.  

While Schwab's movie could have been called Harry and Lex and Shane and Kenny due to the many, many romantic entanglements, Brotherly Lies and the relationships intertwined within its narrative structure is more concerned about the clash of personalities and their consequence upon the individual than it is with the contact of lingering interests as Lex (Pano Tsaklas) moves into the family's vacation home to recuperate from what’s he’s just been through (see above).  Ultimately, this is his story, and its consequences weigh heavily upon his mental stability as some dark truths can't be denied their surfacing anymore.

Lies tug at the seams throughout this feature as guests find themselves caught up in a drama which cannot be defined.

With the audience already thrust into Lex’s fragile mindset, the guests, including Lex’s older brother, David (Robert Sean Campbell), and his fiancée, Laura (Casey Semple), place him more on edge.  Kenny (Jose Fernando), who has chosen to stay with Lex through the summer in order to keep him company, wants to get away from his controlling husband and Shane (Jacob Betts), a struggling screenwriter who is renting the guest house, sure is easy on the eyes - except Lex seems to be all about him, even though it is more than obvious Shane is all about Kenny.  Brotherly Lies

But we aren’t done with the drama yet because Lex’s neighbor, Harry (Schwab), a retired IT exec, is in love with Lex and David, an actor who is in a bit of a career slump, wants to use Shane and a tragedy from he and Lex’s past as material in a new screenplay for him to star in.  All of this compromises Lex's mental state and he suffers, spiraling toward a conclusion that will leave you shaken.

Already, traps are set!  It’s in the handling of these pitfalls where this movie shines.  Full of great dialogue, an incredible set-up, and impressive cinematography, Brotherly Lies removes the concealer in an intriguing mystery and allows its many characters to expose that which they can no longer escape: themselves.

Brotherly Lies is presented by a Diamond in the Rough Films and will be streaming soon.  It's time, as Peter Gabriel once sang, to start "digging in the dirt."

3/5 stars

Film Details

Brotherly Lies

MPAA Rating: Unrated.
95 mins
: Mark Schwab
Mark Schwab
Jose Fernando; Pano Tsaklas; Mark Schwab
: Drama | Mystery
the lies that bind...
Memorable Movie Quote:
Diamond in the Rough Films
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Synopsis: After a nervous breakdown and suicide attempt, Lex (Pano Tsaklas) has moved into the family's vacation home in Northern California to recuperate. His best friend Kenny (Jose Fernando) has come to stay with Lex for the summer for emotional support but also to have some time away from his controlling husband. Lex's brash older brother David (Robert Sean Campbell) then arrives with his new fiance Laura (Casey Semple) to stay for a few days. There is also a guest house on the property that is being rented for the summer by Shane (Jacob Betts), a struggling screenwriter trying to make the leap to Hollywood. Lex is friendly with his neighbor Harry (Mark Schwab), a recently retired IT executive whose husband died three years ago. Over this past summer, Harry has fallen in love with Lex, Lex has fallen in love with Shane and Shane has fallen in love with Kenny. David, once a promising young actor now in a career slump, sees a chance to get back in the spotlight by exploiting a tragic crime from his and Lex's past; many years earlier, a teenage Lex shot and killed their abusive stepfather with the resulting trial becoming a media sensation. As David tries to solicit Shane into writing the screenplay, Lex's mental state spirals down leading to a shattering conclusion.


Brotherly Lies