By Don Simpson | February 17, 2012
Director: Markus Englmair
Writer: Markus Englmair
Starring: Pierre Kiwitt, Jodie Ahlborn, Steven Cloos, Michael Hase, Tatjana Scheel, Ricarda Zimmerer, Anja Karmanski
Writer-director Markus Englmair’s Beside My Brother begins as two teenage identical twin brothers (both portrayed by Steven Cloos) are being raised by a tyrannical father (Michael Hase) as one person. The two boys — who both go by the name Thomas — never venture out in public together. They take turns going to school and they share the same twin bed. One Thomas is shy, serious and bookish; the other Thomas is outgoing, playful and reckless. They both excel at art — one is good at sketching while the other is good at coloring — but their father will not allow them to pursue art as a career.
Several years later, the twins (both portrayed by Pierre Kiwitt) finally decide that it is time for them to become painters; so they leave their father and move into a house together. They have their first official art show (which they must take turns attending) and an old flame (Jodie Ahlborn) from the past reappears in their lives. Both of these events push the brothers to a breaking point — they can no longer maintain the facade of being only one person.
Beside My Brother questions whether or not genes define people or if environmental influences do — for example, can the manner in which people are raised influence who they grow up to become? Genetically, the twins are two distinctly different people; and the brothers fight to remain two separate individuals maintaining their fundamentally different personalities. The father of the twins is obviously psychologically damaged from a past traumatic event, for that reason he has convinced himself that he only has one son. The father’s authoritative personality is powerful enough to control the twins well into adulthood. The twins have become so used to their lifestyles, that it seems they might never be able to break out of their routines. Even when they break free and move into their own home, the twins still maintain their charade of sharing one name and being only one person. What would happen to them if they try to do otherwise?
(Don’t forget to check out all of the other films we previewed for the SF IndieFest 2012.)