MOVIE REVIEWS | INTERVIEWS | YOUTUBE NEWS EDITORIALS | EVENTS | AUDIO | ESSAYS | ARCHIVES | CONTACT |
 
PHOTOS | COMING SOON| EXAMINER.COM FILM ARTICLES ||
HOME

                                                             
Sunday, December 6, 2009

MOVIE REVIEW
Brothers

A War Within And Between Brothers


Fraternal fractures, posterized: Tobey Maguire as Sam Cahill, Natalie Portman as Grace Cahill and Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy Cahill in Jim Sheridan's "Brothers", based on Susanne Bier's 2004 film.    Lionsgate

By Omar P.L. Moore/PopcornReel.com
Sunday, December 6, 2009

"Brothers", based on the 2004 Danish film written by Anders Thomas Jensen and Susanne Bier and directed by Ms. Bier, should have been a more effective and complex film than it is.  Jim Sheridan, who depicted intensity and moral conflict so persuasively in films like "My Left Foot" and "In The Name Of The Father" directs this American edition tightly, yet his latest lacks credibility by overblowing a key element of plot to justify the rage of a character, trivializing the themes and issues presented.

Not exactly self-sabotage, but close enough.

Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a decorated U.S. marine deployed to Afghanistan in 2007.  His diaries to his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) are Hallmark cards of pure love.  His slack-jawed younger brother and jailbird Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) gets drunk and has a hair-trigger temper.  Grace is keeping the family together with her two daughters.  Sam's helicopter unit in Afghanistan goes missing when shot out of the sky and are presumed dead, including Sam.  The Cahills get the sad news but Grace doesn't believe or feel it.  Women's intuition tells her that Sam is alive and well, but she's only half right.

Sexual tension abounds between Grace and Tommy while Sam is away and when apparently resurrected he's inclined to think that some hanky panky has transpired.  From there things quickly spiral out of control.  The actors try too hard to convince us that turmoil has wrecked the family and Mr. Sheridan works so amply hard to convey the tormented state of Mr. Maguire's character that the results not only feel forced but also fall flat, taking the messy moral impulses in the characters combined with the horrors of war and quickly disposing of both to conveniently reach a resolution.  By the end you wonder if the film has made a big deal out of a whole lot of nothing.

Despite palpable tension and eruptions of anger during "Brothers" Mr. Sheridan telegraphs how we should view Sam before Mr. Maguire can do anything interesting with the character.  Instead of a nuanced, tormented soldier Sam is a one-dimensional tinder-box looking for any internal fuse to be lit, even if such isn't Mr. Maguire's intention.  Sam is comfortable doing his best Jim Morrison "c'mon baby light my fire" imitation and Mr. Maguire does what he can to be effective in increments of both crescendo and silence, even if he and the film feel forced.

Ms. Portman tries but doesn't possess the gravitas to make Grace any more than an item of bait to move along a sterile screenplay by David Benioff ("25th Hour").  The only member of the principal actor trio who doesn't force his hand is Mr. Gyllenhaal, who as Tommy is simply trying to squeeze his way back into a family circle that has a fraternal fracture.  He's the one character who supplies comic relief, gaining a renewed lease on life in a film worn down by pathos. 

With: Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Patrick Flueger, Carey Mulligan, Taylor Geare, Bailee Madison, Clifton Collins, Jr., Ethan Suplee, Omid Abtani, Navid Nagahban and Arron Shiver.

"Brothers" is rated R by the Motion Picture Association Of America for language and some disturbing violent content.  The film's running time is one hour and 50 minutes.       

 

COPYRIGHT 2009.  POPCORNREEL.COM.  ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
                                                                             
                                             
Read more movie reviews and stories from Omar here.
   

MOVIE REVIEWS | INTERVIEWS | YOUTUBE NEWS EDITORIALS | EVENTS | AUDIO | ESSAYS | ARCHIVES | CONTACT |
 
PHOTOS | COMING SOON| EXAMINER.COM FILM ARTICLES ||
HOME