• Brotherly Love used real West Philadelphia locations, bringing authenticity to the film and immersing audiences in the true culture of the city.
  • Overbrook High School, a real-life Philadelphia high school that produced celebrities like Will Smith and Wilt Chamberlain, serves as the primary setting of Sergio’s story.
  • Major League Cuts Barber Shop and L&P Market, real West Philly establishments, create a unique and important backdrop for the characters.

The 2015 movie Brotherly Love used real Philadelphia locations as the backdrop of its heart-wrenching story. In August 2023, Netflix added the 2015 film Brotherly Love to its streaming service. The movie tells the story of high school basketball player Sergio Taylor, who deals with romance and violence in the neighborhood of West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. His sister (Jackie), brother (June), and mother all play a role in his journey throughout the film. With famous actors like Keke Palmer and Cory Hardrict in major roles, it’s unsurprising that Brotherly Love‘s cast delivers relatable and deeply emotional arcs.

Though some movies opt to use a film set, Brotherly Love filmed onsite in West Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (via IMDb). Considering the film’s small budget, this likely allowed the producers to save money. Additionally, the choice brought authenticity to the movie that submerged audiences in the true culture and lifestyle of the city. Anyone who has lived in West Philadelphia will immediately recognize the areas that appear in the film. Most of them aren’t major landmarks; however, they’re distinguishable. Those who watch the movie and haven’t spent time in the area will fall in love with the gorgeous architecture and unique styles.

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Overbrook High School

This image shows Overbrook High School in West Philly.

Jamal Hill shared with The Philadelphia Inquirer that Brotherly Love filmed at the real-life Overbrook High School, the perfect backdrop for Sergio’s story. Overbrook High School appears frequently throughout the movie, as it’s the primary setting. According to the OHS website, the school produced big-name celebrities like Will Smith and Wilt Chamberlain. As such, it makes sense that Sergio would dream of becoming a professional basketball player after attending the famous Philadelphia high school. Additionally, the beautiful architecture of the building juxtaposes other settings in Brotherly Love. This establishes the clear class divide within Philadelphia.

Major League Cuts Barber Shop

A sign says

Rather than making up a fake barber shop for Sergio’s uncle to work at, Brotherly Love used external shots of Major League Cuts Barber Shop located on Market Street in West Philly. The distinct red paint and bold lettering contrast with the run-down appearance of the neighborhood. This signals to the viewers that this place is unique and important to the characters. Major League Cuts Barber Shop can be seen at the start of Brotherly Love, as well as one-third of the way through the film, when Sergio visits his uncle at work. It’s unclear whether they used the real interiors of the shop as well.

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L&P Market

This image shows the L&P Market in West Philly.

Very early into Brotherly Love, Sean, Dez, and Sergio go to the L&P Market in order to steal snacks. Though extremely short, this scene helps establish their characters as boisterous teens who seek thrills and instant gratification. Additionally, it frames Sergio as a kid who would do anything for his friends. Brotherly Love filmed at the real L&P Market on Haverford Avenue in West Philadelphia, as can be seen through the store’s layout and signs. However, the director covered up most of the advertisements on the windows, presumably to avoid copyright issues. The choice to film in this location adds authenticity to Brotherly Love‘s setting.

The Intersection of 52nd and Thompson

Jackie stands at a dark intersection.

One of the locations used for filming in Brotherly Love was the intersection of 52nd Street and Thompson Street in West Philadelphia. This location can be seen approximately halfway through Brotherly Love. Jackie and Chris decide to go on a date, but Chris doesn’t show up on time. While waiting for him, Jackie stands at the intersection. She’s shown looking around with a nervous expression on her face. As soon as Chris pulls up, she jumps into the car and gives him a hard time about being late. Since Brotherly Love filmed at the real location, the JSSK Laundromat and Stoagies restaurant are visible in the background.

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West Philadelphia, PA

A silver car sits in front of the rowhouses in West Philly.

Many of the settings used in Brotherly Love are distinct, identifiable locations; however, the film also makes use of less specific West Philadelphia spots for its exterior shots. It incorporates the famous rowhouses and brick buildings in the area. Some shots show street art found throughout the city. The movie even films in a gorgeous cemetery filled with trees. These elements help establish that even lesser-known areas of West Philadelphia possess beauty. Moreover, by using real locations in the movie, Brotherly Love writes a love letter to the underappreciated neighborhood it’s set in.

Sources: IMDb, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Overbrook High School website

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