Director: Ryan O’Nan
Starring: Ryan O’Nan, Michael Weston, Arielle Kebbel, Andrew McCarthy
Running Time: 98 minutes
Synopsis: A singer-songwriter hits the road with a self-appointed music revolutionary.
Whenever you set up for an American indie lo-fi flick, you’re always hopeful that it’ll feel like something in the vicinity of GARDEN STATE and, I’m pleased to say, that BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST – despite the excessively long title – goes a long way to satisfying that urge in a film that is quintessentially a stripped down acoustic road trip.
BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST is Ryan O’Nan’s (THE ICEMAN) directorial debut but not only that, he also wrote the screenplay, co-wrote the songs and stars in the lead role as Alex. This is far from an egotistical affair though, as Alex has been dumped by his girlfriend, is sharing the stage with a musician far inferior and down on his luck. But it’s not over yet, as his self-deprecating nature means the band splits up and then he gets fired from his mediocre real estate job after attacking a co-worker with a water cooler bottle. You could say that he’s had better days.
Despite this, it’s not all doom and gloom as he’s picked up by Jim (Michael Weston – GARDEN STATE), who’s another musical misfit. Jim has a tour ready to go but has also been fired from his band and now all he needs to do is convince Alex that he should go along with him. The premise for the two matching up is a little sketchy but even early on, both lead characters have a strange warmth about them, in that nerdy-outsider way. They’re both likeable even though Alex is a depressive and then Jim is positive against the odds but they’ve got a focus on music in common.
There’s also great accompaniment in the form of Arielle Kebble (THE UNINVITED) as Cassidy, a feisty and strong female co-star with similar emotive traces of Penny Lane from ALMOST FAMOUS. O’Nan in the lead has snippets of a morose Ryan Gosling and is an all-round rising star. Weston is impressive as well, perfectly playing the role of ‘slightly-annoying’ but you feel the respect for his equally stupid, realistic and fearless attitude to certain situations.
BROOKLYN BROTHERS BEAT THE BEST is a solid debut and undoubtedly charming. If you’re trying to find your place in the world, you’ll get this. It’s about sticking to what you love and making sure you don’t get dragged into the mire of repetitions and how just one ounce of belief can change everything, for all the right reasons.