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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

FILM DETAILS
Certificate
15
Cast
Jake Gyllenhaal
Tobey Maguire
Natalie Portman.
Directors
Jim Sheridan.
Screenwriters
David Benioff.
Running Time
105 minutes

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Brothers
Maguire and Gyllenhaal feel the call of duty…


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Plot
Sam Cahill (Maguire) begins his latest tour in Afghanistan and his chopper is shot down. He is presumed dead. As his family, including his wife (Portman), brother (Gyllenhaal) and father (Shepard) mourn his loss, they try to move on with their lives. Then Sam unexpectedly returns home…


Review
Brothers
Irish helmer Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In The Name Of The Father, In America) laments the fact that European films have a better chance of achieving poetic resonance than their Hollywood counterparts. He now works mainly in America, and his latest offering, a taut reworking of the 2004 Danish movie Brothers, is a case in point. With the original, director Susanne Bier indulged her passion for agonising moral dilemmas, crafting a tale that is infused with realism and shot with fidgety handheld cameras. Sheridan’s effort, meanwhile, boasts a much more calculated and slicker set-up, with a glossy veneer, carefully composed shots and superstar cast.

In truth, that cast performs admirably, Sheridan’s gift with actors squeezing terrific performances from Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal. The last plays Tommy, the prodigal son, a petty crook and, in the eyes of his Vietnam vet father (an excellent Sam Shepard), a bit of a tit. So often overshadowed by his co-stars, Gyllenhaal here holds his own against a deliberately stiff and twitchy Maguire, who stars as Sam, the older brother, a captain in the Marines and the apple of his family’s eye, and an unravelling Portman, who’s fractured character, Grace, is Sam’s childhood sweetheart and the mother of his two cute daughters.

While Bier’s film is deeply romantic, focussing on the love that blossoms between brother- and sister-in-law, Sheridan’s remake shifts the emphasis onto family, and he mines his drama from the two brothers’ changing circumstance. The film pivots around an act of transgression that plays out in the combat zone, during Sam’s capture by the Taliban. It is a truly shocking moment, and it signals Sam’s emotional nadir, from which he struggles to recover.

The film is far from flawless — the scenes in Afghanistan leading up to the key moment are a little lacklustre and we never fully learn how the boys’ upbringing affected Sam, even though there’s the suggestion that he, too, suffered under the weight of his father’s expectations. Sam may appear the perfect family man, but in drama, as in life, appearances can be deceiving.


Verdict
Despite strong performances from the leads, when it comes to pacing and power, it’s the Danish original that edges it. Still, a sturdy and affecting remake that brings a powerful story to an even wider audience.


Reviewed by Will Lawrence

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Brothers
Empire Star Rating

Good. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by reminn at 12:15, 03 November 2010 | Report This Post


Loved It And The Acting Was Exceptional

I liked Brothers the acting in it is superb it just makes the film. But I felt uneasy when Sam had to do that thing with a piece of pipe in Afghanistan but Maguire was so convincing as a man a good man pushed to his limits, and Portmans acting was amazing as his grief stricken wife also a good person pushed to her limits. And a good portrayal of a family pushed to its limits. Its the effects of War. Gyllenhaals character as a crim is interesting and his personal growth is good to watch as he see... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Bighousewill at 19:02, 17 June 2010 | Report This Post


Where Was The Oscar Nod For This?

This film was brilliant, outstanding and very, very powerful. It gripped me tight from the opening scene to the end creidts. The war scenes are tenseful and nail-bitting but it's at home scenes that are the strongest. With out of this world pefomances from Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, they bring out their characters perfectly and should have been given Oscar nods. Much better than The Hurt Locker, Brothers is highly recommended. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 15:02, 07 June 2010 | Report This Post


Where Was The Oscar Nod For This?

This film was brilliant, outstanding and very, very powerful. It gripped me tight from the opening scene to the end creidts. The war scenes are tenseful and nail-bitting but it's at home scenes that are the strongest. With out of this world pefomances from Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, they bring out their characters perfectly and should have been given Oscar nods. Much better than The Hurt Locker, Brothers is highly recommended. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by joanna likes films at 15:02, 07 June 2010 | Report This Post


Very good war drama

Brothers is what The Hurt Locker should have been. They practically deliver the same message, but this film has a certain edge and valour that its brother missed out on. The writing is very suitable and presents well fleshed-out characters and adequate pace and atmosphere. Jim Sheridian, here, really has his work cut out for him, but still creates an experience which will leave you thinking and pondering days after watching the film. Maguire, Gyllenhaal and Portman all turn in utterly perfect p... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by djphilips at 17:43, 08 April 2010 | Report This Post


Brothers - Miscast

Well acted but inferior remake of the Danish original. A good cast, but Maguire is totally miscast as a US Marine Captain and this spoils it a bit for me. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by dwesty at 12:37, 23 March 2010 | Report This Post


RE: Brothers

Went to see this last night and thought it ok but could have been much better . Like one of Jim Sheridans previous films 'In America' he employs the use of two young girls to tug at the heartstrings a bit which seemed a bit too ... obvious . Maguire was good but wont win any awards , same for the rest of the cast too . I thought they could have made more of the relationship with Sam Shephard who played the Father/Grandad and his two sons Gylenhall and Maguire in respect of past abuse from th... More

Posted by Beno at 10:42, 02 February 2010 | Report This Post


Brothers

I went to see this film because Avator was sold out and did not want to go home without seeing anything. I was so pleasantly surprised with the film, I thought it was a really good intense story. Jake and Tobey were very very good, very realistic, maybe Natalie was a bit too glam for a depressed widow and also the Father son relationship breakdown was not established enough. The older daughter was brilliant, I think she has a good future in films. Overall I am glad I got to see this film, I th... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by love films at 14:39, 31 January 2010 | Report This Post


Brothers

Maguire gives a strong peformance, as the favoured son who returns home a changed man; . Gyllenhaal's best scenes are with a subdued but effective Sam Shepard, while Portman is nice fit as the dutiful wife. But the kids steal every single scene they are in. The war scenes aren't as effective as they could've been , and the pacing is somehow a bit off - making the film seem stilghtly dull ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by moviemaniac2 at 15:59, 23 January 2010 | Report This Post


Modern Day Deer Hunter

Amazing. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by DJ Funktris at 21:04, 21 January 2010 | Report This Post


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