Nicolo Donato's bleak yet compelling "Brotherhood," an unsparing neo-noir with the structure and inevitability of classic drama, opens in the dark of night with a man entrapping a young, inexperienced gay man into a bashing and then cuts to a young blond soldier being told by his commanding officer he cannot be promoted because he's been accused of making passes at fellow soldiers.
The soldier, Lars (Thure Lindhardt), is vulnerable when by chance he falls into a group of neo- Nazis and is recruited by its leader, the bearded, paunchy but implacably forceful Michael (Nicolas Bro).
Michael's group of young disaffected males doesn't take its anger out just on immigrants; the men are intensely homophobic as well. So when Lars winds up entangled in a passionate romance with Jimmy (David Dencik), Michael's right-hand man, it's a sure recipe for disaster.
But Donato is such an assured and involving filmmaker he generates fascination as to how Lars and Jimmy's story will play out. The director doesn't ask for sympathy for the two, played with brooding intensity by Lindhardt and Dencik, but rather invites the viewer to ponder "Brotherhood's" larger implications.
"Brotherhood." MPAA rating: Unrated. Running time: 1 hour, 30 minutes. At the Sunset 5, West Hollywood.