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Brothers (2009 film)

Brothers is a 2009 drama/war film starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman.

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The Weight of Guilt and the Fear of Loneliness...

  • Mar 31, 2010

We are all familiar with the stories about the soldiers who return from a war, that they become someone quite different from who they were before. War is hell, and the things soldiers have to go through often test the limits of human endurance. Director Jim Sheridan’s “BROTHERS” is based on the Danish film “Brodre” (2004) by Susanne Bier. The film chronicles the effects of war on the human psyche and how some soldiers may not be able to return to a normal civilian life after one’s harrowing experiences. Tobey Maguire (Spider-Man) earned a Golden Globe nomination for his performance.
Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a captain in the U.S. Marine Corp and his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is an ex-con. Sam is married to a beautiful young woman named Grace (Natalie Portman) and they have two daughters between them (Bailee Madison and Taylor Grace Geare). Sam is sent off to Afghanistan after Tommy gets released from jail for armed robbery. Soon, news that Sam’s helicopter had crashed over the Afghan waters and all the marines on board were believed to be dead; when in reality Sam is taken prisoner in a mountain village. Devastated, Grace finds some solace in Tommy’s company as he also seeks to redeem himself by comforting Sam’s family; his nieces also become fond of his presence in the house. Months pass, Tommy and Grace soon feel a certain weird attraction towards each other. Then, Sam is rescued during a raid and he is brought home…Sam is not the same man who originally left for Afghanistan.

        Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman in "Brothers."

                Mare Winningham as Elsie and Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy in "Brothers."
                            Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy and Tobey Maguire as Sam in "Brothers."
“Brothers” has a very simple storyline and yet the drama it brings into the fold is truly strong because it is definitely something that hits real close to home especially in light of today’s current events. War is effects on people and this film brings the viewer in the world of this “army family” (Sam’s Dad was in the army), where patriotism and heroism becomes contradicted by the code of morality and the natural instinct to survive. The film fleshes out the effects of war and imprisonment on one soldier’s psyche; sometimes it is just no wonder why one can simply adapt to their situation and find that they no longer belong in society. One may say that they become addicted to war, after all, how do you re-adjust to normal life? Sam becomes suspicious of course of the relationship between his brother and his wife, after all, Tommy had quite a ‘reputation’ with women before.
Now I cannot really relate to these type of situations, but I imagine Tommy to be seeking some sort of approval from his father as well as some sort of redemption after his less than respectable past. However, human nature and weaknesses play a hand as Tommy and Grace become to realize exactly who they are and what they really want. Loneliness and fear can drive people to forget their inhibitions, it is just a natural reaction to seek comfort in some other different ways. People need people, and they need to feel; it just so happens that the two were in the right place at the right time.

               Tobey Maguire as Sam and Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy in "Brothers."

                                           Tobey Maguire as Sam and Natalie Portman as Grace in "Brothers."
What really grabbed me with “Brothers” are the performances. Tobey Maguire was just impressive as Sam. He was able to set his character’s emotions in a manner that was just right for the scene; Maguire’s eyes just reflected sheer fear, guilt, anger and confusion. It was almost as if he would feel better if Tommy slept with his wife. Jake Gyllenhaal and beauteous Natalie Portman were able to form a chemistry to make their attraction appear believable despite some weaknesses in the script. There were times that I thought that the film moved a little too quickly, that the key points in the film weren’t given enough time to really settle into the audience. I thought that while the chemistry was right, it just couldn’t achieve that total emotional impact to attain the inherent human drama in the film’s premise. This film would’ve benefited if it was a lot longer than 98 minutes.
“Brothers” may have not played all its strengths to the max, but I thought it was still a fine motion picture. While it didn’t capitalize enough on its potential drama, the excellent performances made the sequences very convincing. Maguire, Gyllenhaal and Portman managed to keep the film aloft and the direction did manage to strengthen its somewhat predictable resolution. This film may not be the most compelling piece of war-human drama film, but it’ll make do.
Highly Recommended! [4 Stars]
HYPE LEVEL: Extremely Low since it was almost overlooked as it followed “The Blind Side” and the abysmal juvenile flick “Twilight New Moon” in the box-office. 

The Weight of Guilt and the Fear of Loneliness...

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April 07, 2010
Could not agree more man this one was great, Tobey Maguire was excellent as was everyone. Toby really impressed me.
March 31, 2010
I'm dying to see this one.
March 31, 2010
I watched the film on dvd about 2 weeks ago. Didn't like it that much although you were right about Tobey Maguire's performance. I'm a fan, lol... but he certainly is not the Spiderman we have come to know so well! War movies leave a bad taste as far as I'm concerned. Sorry!
March 31, 2010
BOOOOOO.... ;-D I understand. Themes like this aren't for everyone.
March 31, 2010
Too depressing :-) Didn't pay to see a movie to be depressed!
March 31, 2010
I see that. Most folks see movies as an escape. If you thought this was depressing you had better stay away from this one. It's the Chinese version of Schindler's List
More Brothers (2009 film) reviews
review by . December 09, 2009
posted in Movie Hype
It’s been a while since I’ve been to the movies so I thought I indulge in a film that I knew would be intense.  I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a film starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman.  Right off the bat I have to say the trailer makes you think this movie is a cross between, Jarhead, in that it deals with Marines, Pearl Harbor, because the “dead soldier” is never really dead and come back home, and Psycho, nice guy goes nuts …
review by . July 14, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
   Brothers, a movie about a military family torn apart by a son/husband/brother's disappearance starts strong with a compelling plot.  Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal (with whom she has around 10 times the chemistry as she did with Tobey Maguire) explore the roles of their characters and their taboo romance with a graceful subtlety.  The father-son relationship with Gyllenhaal's character often seems a bit too contrived, with the idea that Gyllenhaal will never achieve …
Quick Tip by . April 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A really powerful film showing the affects of war on a family. Maguire and Gyllenhaal are astoundingly good. See it!
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William ()
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Brothers is a 2009 drama/war film starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman. Directed by Jim Sheridan, the film is based on Susanne Bier's 2004 Danish film Brødre which takes place in Afghanistan and Denmark. Both films take inspiration from Homer's epic poem The Odyssey.

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Director: Jim Sheridan
Genre: Drama
Release Date: 2009
MPAA Rating: R
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