Manny Molina (Nabil Vinas) wants to escape the humdrum of his life, and he believes money will allow that to happen. To that end, he has accrued sizable gambling debt. He co-owns the family home with his brother George (Memo). George looks out to the world from the safety of his bedroom window, for fear of everything it seems. Now, Manny must convince George to sell the apartment with him, or they’ll both be facing a lifetime of hurt from some very unscrupulous people.
The Brothers Molina is terrible in all but one way. The three core actors, Vinas, Memo, and Lili Miranda as Manny’s significant other are all quite good. Vinas and Memo have a good rapport and feel like siblings. Miranda sells her character’s frustrations and anger in just a few scenes very believable.
The rest of this 20-minute short drama fails remarkably hard. Writer-director Jamie Canobbio’s script is riddled with plot holes. I am not referring to one or two nitpicks, I mean full-on, characters must be dumber than dirt to either do (or not to do) certain things. At a certain point, Manny steals all of Ana’s money. She goes to brothers’ apartment to confront Manny, but he isn’t home. Upon discovery this, Ana calls Manny multiple times for two or three days. She never goes to the cops to report the crime. Why wouldn’t she?
“…Manny must convince George to sell the apartment with him, or they’ll both be facing a lifetime of hurt…”
We don’t come in on a desperate person making the wrong choice. The movie begins with Manny already being in debt and he digs himself deeper. So, why should we care? As for George, he is clearly on the spectrum somewhere, but that is his only trait. He has trouble lying, livery specific things, and that is all there is to him. I am pretty shocked this character does not have some sort of caseworker or power of attorney type person checking in on him on the regular, as there is no way he is capable of making decisions himself (and if Manny had that power, he would not need George’s signature to sell. Plus, Manny is not qualified).
Canobbio’s awful direction helps none of this. His camera blocking is tepid at best, and extremely awkward at worst. During the poker game (at least I am presuming it to be that, though it could a different card game I am unfamiliar with), there’s a shot of Manny placing a bet. Then there’s an edit to a different player, but the action in this new scene is not on him. The movement comes from the dealer, who is barely in frame and is easily missed until he moves. All that needed to happen was for the static camera to be positioned 20-degrees more to the right. This puts the dealer more within the frame, but still leaves the bulk of the screen filled up by the just sitting there, doing nothing card shark.
The Brothers Molina is wretched. The story amounts to nothing, as the ending leaves the audience cold because the characters are unsympathetic, uninteresting, and selfish. The score never fits the tone of any scene, save one. Sadly, when George imagines being a dancer is nothing more than pointless padding. Jamie Canobbio’s directing and poor blocking certainly does not help. I feel bad for the actors, as they are trying so hard, but the uphill battle proved too much for them.
"…the one attempt at some depth winds up being a big-lipped alligator moment."