Half brothers: A must-watch film this holiday season

Emotions flare when two half-brothers take a forced road trip organized by their dying father. A must-watch movie this holiday season.

Arts Arts and Culture Simon Elstad

This article was published on December 7th, 2020

Half Brothers is Luke Greenfield’s latest comedy-drama, which opened in U.S. theatres on Friday 4th. The feature film portrays Flavio, a Mexican dad who leaves his home country and young family – a wife and young son, Renato, to pursue opportunities in the U.S. when a financial crisis ravages Mexico in the mid-’90s. He never goes back.

Luis Gerardo Mendez (left) stars as “Renato” and Connor Del Rio (right) stars as “Asher” in director Luke Greenfield’s HALF BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : John Golden Britt / Focus Features

Years later, his now-adult son Renato (Luis Gerardo Méndez) receives a phone call, just before his wedding, informing him that his father needs to see him one last time on his deathbed in Chicago. He travels to the U.S. to meet his dad and realizes he has a half brother, Asher (Connor Del Rio).

The two end up taking a road trip together. Indeed, the journey traces their dad’s path as an immigrant from Mexico to the U.S. Despite clashing at first, the two brothers end up forming a close relationship as they uncover their father’s lifetime mysteries.

Luis Gerardo Mendez (left) stars as “Renato” and Connor Del Rio (right) stars as “Asher” in director Luke Greenfield’s HALF BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : John Golden Britt / Focus Features

Half Brothers delves into immigration and family separation, complex issues that continue to challenge the U.S. and many other countries. Flavio, the queer dad, on his part, takes us through a beautiful and emotional journey of family, raising his kids and trying to fend for his young family.

Juan Pablo Espinosa on being gay playing a gay character (Flavio)

Playing Flavio, a well-written gay character, came as a thrill to Juan Pablo Espinosa, an out Colombian actor. He also starred in Family Secrets – a Colombian telenovela, and the popular Netflix series Narcos. That was his first-star role as a gay character.

Juan was born and raised in Bogota, Colombia and just turned 40 in October. Since graduating from drama studies at Emerson College in Boston, he’s had an incredible career in the last two decades. Over that period, he’s appeared on stage in plays such as Macbeth and had several film roles, such as Cocaine Godmother in 2017. Interestingly, he was the host of the Colombian version of the popular American Idol, known as Idol Colombia.

Connor Del Rio (left) stars as “Asher” and Luis Gerardo Mendez (right) stars as “Renato” in director Luke Greenfield’s HALF BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : John Golden Britt / Focus Features

The actor just celebrated his third anniversary (Nov 11) with his boyfriend. Surprisingly, both are Mariah Careyfans! What else would you want for Christmas?

As Flavio in Half Brothers, Juan takes us through the entire fatherhood journey, helping us explore the usually complex father-son bond.

At first, we see his beautiful relationship with his young son, before the demands of providing the best for his family pushes him to seek a better life in the U.S.

Even though he never makes it back to Mexico, we see through the road trip about his struggles as a young dad in a foreign country trying to make ends meet.

Flavio also helps us explore parenting. How do we equip our children to deal with modern challenges and situations? How do you raise a kid who identifies as LGBTQ? In one of the monologues on Half Brothers, Flavio addresses Asher, one of the brothers, a crazy, quirky character. He tells him, “there’s nothing wrong with you, and I want you to know that I’ve loved you and been proud of you throughout your whole life.”

Tackling hot-potato political issues

Immigration and family separation have been hot issues during the Trump administration and one of the main themes in the film. According to one report, the administration could not trace the parents of 545 children after they were separated at the borders.

Luis Gerardo Mendez (left) stars as “Renato” and Connor Del Rio (right) stars as “Asher” in director Luke Greenfield’s HALF BROTHERS, a Focus Features release. Credit : John Golden Britt / Focus Features

Ultimately, however, Half Brothers is about family – both real and adopted. According to Pablo, talking to 48Hills, “In the end, Half Brothers is about human beings, and the stories that I’m sure that anyone who’s faced with the same situation as Flavio, regardless of their race or background, is going to do the very best for their loved ones. I hope that the audiences are left with that feeling of identifying themselves with Flavio’s unconditional love.”

Watch the trailer now:

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