Hulu’s new film Bruiser is a slice-of-life drama that centers around Darius, a middle-class, average teen, who has a trying relationship with his stepfather, Malcolm. That perilous bond is challenged when Darius’ stepfather, Porter, appears in his life.

The movie stars Shamier Anderson in the role of Malcolm, who is “a shining example of what it means to love and to hope, but he is not a hero in the traditional Hollywood sense,” Anderson tells EBONY. “He is a loser that must find the courage to win. Throughout his journey, we see him struggle and suffer in his relationship with his family, with debt and with his placement in the wider community. The fragile little life he has built teeters on the edge. He is tested and continually preservers even at the lowest of moments.” 

Trevante Rhodes, of Moonlit fame, plays charismatic loner Porter. While he could have played either role, “Porter was really the person that I gravitated a little bit more towards, because he lived that detached life,” he reveals to EBONY. “He’s a free-spirited individual who is unabashedly unable to be dominated.”

That very nature attracts Darius to this unknown family member, according to Jalyn Hall, who stars in the role. “Darius is searching for a true father figure and role model that he can connect and relate to, open and honestly,” the Till star shares with EBONY. 

As the movie progresses, we watch two grown men literally butting heads over how to interact and nurture the impressionable Darius. “It’s muscular love, and I want to emphasize that," says Anderson, noting that there's no single Black mom struggling here or a Black kid on the rails but instead, a deep look into the complexity that arises when there’s almost too much love to give. "This family is going to be strong. This family is going to be true. How they get to that point is the film, it is the story," he continues. "It stands in the gutter and offers hope.”

When the movie gets to its apex, it’s evident that Darius’ evolution depends on all involved, from the sage advice of his mom to the two men who earnestly want to be an integral part of his world. “It's not really about the two fathers," Rhodes points out. "It's about their influence in his life and all these things. And so the last bit is a bit of hope because Darius finally listens.” According to Hall, Darius grows through this journey. “The ending of the movie, to me, symbolizes Darius’ transition from a young boy in search of mentorship to a man that handles his own problems,” he concludes.

The film is intensely personal for Rhodes, who serves as a producer. His takeaway for viewers is to “develop a deeper appreciation for Black fathers,” he exclaims. “I want young men to follow suit; not just to be there, but to really be there in every possible way to devote everything.” As a man who grew up without a father, Rhodes is dedicating this to his own son. “I've devoted this time and attention to my son in this way. And he'll forever have this piece and forever be able to say, the great Jayln Hall portrayed him in a film. So it’s just a deep love.”

Bruiser, is now playing on Hulu.