In the more recent years of cinema, the rise of the independent feature film has now become something of a common practice in Hollywood. Practically, anyone- under the right circumstances and regulations- can make a movie. And this truly was the case back in the 70s and 80s. Which brings us to today's feature film. Shot in 1983, and released the following year, "The Brother from Another Planet" is an interesting look at a case of mistaken identity. While the film does suffer from some problems, it's still good for what it's worth. "The Brother from Another Planet" takes a relatively common story that has been seen and done numerous times, and turns it on its side.
The story involves an alien (Joe Morton) who crash lands on Earth because of a technical malfunction. The alien just so happens to land in Harlem, NY. He blends into the city very well as he has a dark skin complexion, so he is given the nickname of Brother. The Brother soon adapts to the society of the time, and even uses his talents to get him some jobs. Unfortunately, the Brother also sees the grim underbelly of Harlem: people you can't trust, and drug dealers to give examples. Meanwhile, two cops try to capture the brother as he is a wanted fugitive.
"The Brother from Another Planet" is a good and interesting film to watch. The story presents itself with the idea that someone not from this world has to try and adapt to our own unique way of living. Yes, this type of story had been done before in other films, both before and after, but the curiosity factor in this movie is definitely high. This is mainly applied to the performances in the movie: their good, but Morton steals the show. The reason behind this is that throughout the entire movie, the Brother is mute, making the perfect chance to see a main character not talk throughout the entirety of the film. From a directive standpoint, John Sayles did a very good job. Musically, the soundtrack is great as has a unique style of instruments being provided, like the steel drum, and offers a wide variety of genres to reflect like jazz. Finally, the movie takes a small budget of approximately $400,000 and make something work with this kind of money.
However, there are some problems concerning the film. First, there are a lot of plot holes and questions that are left unanswered. Couldn't the U.S. government be aware of an alien that has landed on Earth, and done a little bit of research? Who sent the cops? What was the crime that the Brother committed? It feels lacking and it leaves a lot to the imagination. Next, the pacing can be an issue, as the movie runs very slowly. And for technology's sake, the movie deserves a remake.
In conclusion, "The Brother from Another Planet" is a nice little film that needs to be seen on how independent films back then had the potential of being noticed by the public.