8 ago. 2010

My Review: Brothers (7/10)

¨I don't know who said 'only the dead have seen the end of war'. I have seen the end of war. The question is: can I live again? ¨

Jim Sheridan directs this melodrama that focuses on family and the impact war has on all of it`s members, not just the soldiers. Most of Sheridan`s films focus on family, such was the case in In the Name of the Father, In America, and The Boxer. In Brothers the main problem Sheridan had to face was that there were two other war movies released during the same year that had much more critical success: Oscar winner The Hurt Locker and The Messenger, and out of the three Brothers was the weakest. Brothers was based on the 2004 danish film of the same name written and directed by Susanne Bier. The screenplay for this american version was written by David Benioff. The story may seem a little forced during some scenes, such is the case when the family is dinning together for Maggie`s birthday near the end of the movie and Isabelle burts and says something that doesn`t feel real because it is not something a little girl would say. Some scenes were just forced for more melodramatic effects. Many people might be divided over the story, some liked it a lot others hated it, but what no one can deny is that the performances were great. Toby Maguire gives the performance of his career and I think he really deserved an Oscar nomination, but I guess the Academy didn`t think so since they had already nominated Renner for The Hurt Locker and Harrelson for The Messenger. I thought the kitchen breakdown scene by Maguire was one of the best of the year. Natalie Portman was excellent as well, the two child actresses were really believable, and Jake Gyllenhaal gives his best performance since Brokeback Mountain. Brothers is a movie I enjoyed more because of the performance from the cast then the actual story.

Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a Marine Captain who has to return to Afghanistan for his second tour in a few days. Meanwhile he is enjoying time with his family back home: his beautiful wife Grace (Natalie Portman), and his two young daughters Isabelle (Bailee Madison) and Maggie (Taylor Geare). Before leaving for Afghanistan Sam gets to pick up his younger brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), from jail and brings him home. The family gets together for dinner along with Sam`s parents Hank (Sam Shepard) and Elsie (Mare Winningham). Tension between Hank and Tommy is felt from the first moment they sit together for dinner as Hank always speaks well of Sam and criticizes Tommy for always being trouble. Sam has a good relationship with his brother and always tries to defend him. Sam leaves for Aghanistan and suffers an accident on one of his missions. Two marines visit Grace and let her know that Sam has passed away, but the truth is that he has survived and been taken prisoner by Afghan rebels, but we are the only ones who know this because the director has decided to share this information with us. Meanwhile Grace is devastated and tries to be strong for her two young daughters who she really loves. Tommy is also devastated by his brother`s loss and decides to help Grace out with the kids and remodeling the kitchen. As time goes by Tommy`s relationship with Grace and the kids grows and he even seems to redeem himself in his father`s eyes. While Tommy is reconstructing his life, Sam is being tortured and suffering physical and psychological damage, and we are waiting for him to be rescued and see what happens.

The movie is mildly succesfull because of the performance from the entire cast. The story suffers from being a bit melodramatic, but it is still worth a watch. It is mostly a character driven film as we see how war takes its toll on family. Sam was a great husband and loving father before the incident, and Tommy was kind of the black sheep in the family. Sam`s supposed death brings a reversal of roles as Tommy takes care of the kids and befriends them while giving Grace the emotional support she needs. Sam on the other hand suffers so much psychological pain that he changes completely because he was forced to do things he never imagined possible. During the movie I was really hoping this wouldn`t turn out to be another Pearl Harbor as we could see the events unfolding before our eyes, but Sheridan stays away from that and focuses on the psychological impact on the family. I know I haven`t stopped repeating how much I enjoyed the performance from the cast, but I was truely suprised by the two child actresses who really were great on screen. It was the best performance by children on screen I have seen in quite some time. This movie is worth your time for the solid acting although the plot has its weak moments.


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