Brothers in Trouble

This 1995 movie begins by forcing us to identify completely and painfully with Amir (Pavan Malhotra) as he pays extortionists for his one-way transport to Britain in a crate, then settles into an all-male household of other illegal immigrants who've left their families in Pakistan to fulfill economic goals. Director Udayan Prasad's nuanced handling of the large ensemble cast and the melodramatic elements in producer Robert Buckler's screenplay, which is set in the 60s, is persuasive until Mary (Angeline Ball), a pregnant woman the men are harboring, becomes too obvious and contrived an antagonist. Her provocative presence among lonely men who have grueling jobs and live in constant fear of being deported is too easy a conceit—the conflicts she engenders seem engineered, especially when she blames her poor judgment on a tragic childhood and her habitual involvement with violent types. About two-thirds of this story is so powerful you can barely breathe, but the rest is ineffectual, allowing a femme fatale to be its undoing.

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