‘Half Brothers’ Summary & Analysis – Transformation Of A Cynic Into A Sentimentalist


The desolation of an Absent Parent can affect a child’s emotional sanity. Some show heightened emotions while others shrink it into a sort of repression. Whatever their future might turn up to be, this particular blow is prominently visible in their Character. In Half Brothers, the protagonist Renato (Luis Gerardo Méndez) loved his father,  Flavio dearly but due to the financial crisis in Mexico, he travels to the USA for likelihood, leaving behind his wife and son Renato. Flavio never returned back to Mexico and Renato hated him forever.

Directed by Luke Greenfield, Half Brothers centres around  Renato who travels to America to meet his dying father. While the conflict looks serious enough, trust me, the film is witty and hilarious. Renato as a cynical sarcastic Mexican man delivers rib-tickling punches where a chuckle couldn’t be avoided. However, the comedy is just to grab the audience on an adventurous ride, where the drama is so appealing that it might compel you to howl like a kid. The character transformation of Renato is subtle and soul-stirring. Before coming to the notes, let’s get a gist of the story.

‘Half Brothers’ Summary

Adult Renato is going to be married to his company CEO, Pamela, a widowed mother with a neglected kid, Emilio. Renato grew up with an absent father, Flavio who left him in childhood promising to return back from the USA. But he never returned. Renato now hates his father and the USA equally. He hates every American in general, who think that Mexico is all about Cartels and Cancun.

Few days before his marriage with Pamela, Renato learns that Flavio is on a deathbed and is yearning to meet Renato for the last time. Renato, first sceptical, makes a trip to the USA to find out that his father married again in the USA and Renato has a half brother named Asher, a crazy American.

Renato leaves the hospital enraged. Flavio dies the next day. All Flavio leaves is a letter that leads to a series of riddles which would help these two half brothers to find out Flavio’s life. The end of the road trip might answer Renato’s unanswered question, Why his father never returned to him, even when he promised to?

Character Transformation – Accepting the Weirdness

The inherent magic of a well-written screenplay is, “It can enhance a generic plot into a spellbinding narrative, with only a simple technique of Character Transformation.

On the surface level, Half Brothers is a simple story about a son going to meet his dying father only to learn about why he never returned. But, what makes it incredibly interesting and emotional, is the relationship between characters and change in Renato’s character.

Renato is extremely narcissistic, sarcastic and cynical. He believes that in life no one is going to help and you have to work your ass off to achieve anything. It is because Renato didn’t have his dad for love and support, and now that hatred has turned into cynicism. He doesn’t believe in anything other than to have material gain, be successful and be like everyone. At a point, before the marriage, Renato and Pamela’s child, Emilio, have complications understanding each other because Emilio is bullied and teased in school. Renato advises Emilio, “try to be less weird. Just try to be a regular kid, you know?

It is clearly visible that Renato doesn’t understand the problem. He lacks empathy because of his own childhood, he has turned into a stone, quick to judge and never letting anyone else come close. When Renato meets his half brother Asher. He finds him equally weird and crazy and thus maintains a distance. However, during the road trip to find the truth about his father, Renato learns about Asher too. Asher was a special kid from childhood. No not mentally retarded. He just has a different perspective to look at things, and that is why everyone has a hard time understanding Asher. Asher verbalises his sadness, “Don’t give up on me. Everybody always gives up on me. It’s exactly what dad did.

Renato hates Asher because his dad chose to stay behind with Asher and not him. In the end, Renato gets to know that Asher was having a difficult childhood and needed Flavio to be there. Flavio makes a difficult choice to stay back because he has already gone through the pain of leaving one son behind. Asher is his chance, to not repeat the mistake and thus he chooses Asher over Renato.

The film comes to a complex pathway where Renato has to understand Flavio’s choice and the reason behind that choice. It is the point where Renato makes the right choice, his character transformation shines brightly. He finally accepts that being different is not a bad thing after all. Renato’s journey with Asher transforms him into a man who would become a better father for Emilio. A man who believed that father and son shouldn’t be friends speaks out loud, “A father and son should be best friends.

I think that is what All Great Stories are about, you learn to become a better version of yourself. Renato has now become a sentimentalist like his father.

Half Brothers is indeed an emotional funny ride. It packs some really hilarious and emotional scenes. Now when I say hilarious, they are not pretentious, but genuinely funny. The give and take between Renato and Asher and at some scenes, Renato’s sarcasm hits the bulls-eye. In a scene, Renato and Asher produce Ethanol from Moonshine, and that scene is simply unique and marvellous. It portrays the work behind massive brainstorming. Together, the team of Half Brothers weaves a comical ride to an emotional end.

The last confession tape of Flavio along with the parting gift (Eloise) to Renato, will definitely bring a flood of tears to anyone watching it. I am sure, any vulnerable and emotionally defenceless person would relate to those raw and real emotions when Flavio says,

“Asher, you were so unique. And I didn’t know how to connect with you. So, instead, I pulled away for far too long.  I made you both feel like you were not the son I wanted but in truth… I was not the father you deserved.”

Half Brothers is the kind of Cinema, every cinephile should watch and experience. When Studios are spending lakhs on sets and stars, these films remind us that Storytelling is all about Emotions and People. Nothing Else.

Half Brothers is available on Video on Demand.

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Shikhar Agrawal
Shikhar Agrawal
I am an Onstage Dramatist and a Screenwriter. I have been working in the Indian Film Industry for the past 12 years, writing dialogues for various films and television shows.

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