Tuesday, 8 December 2009



Dir: Jim Sheridan (In America, My Left Foot)
Cast: Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Baliee Madison, Taylor Geare
USA, 2009

Seen: December 4, 2009 at Scotiabank

Reason to see: Trailer suckered me right in

When I found out Brothers is based on the Danish film Brødre directed by Susanne Beir (After the Wedding / Efter brylluppet) I immediately put Brødre on my ziplist. That was months ago, and so far it's not yet come my way. Usually I'm a stickler for seeing the original first but this time I couldn't resist.

Overall I was a little disappointed with Brothers but I don't fault the film itself but rather the Trailer which shows us way too much. I think the experience of the film would have been more powerful with less shown in the trailer, or more shown in the film. That being said the film certainly gives us a lot to grab a hold of. The performances by both Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire were great, and together they captured a nuanced brother relationship that was neither perfect nor simple. I fear that the performance by Tobey Maguire will get more credit as it's more overt than Jake Gyllenhaal whom continues to impress. It was also great to see Sam Shepard who plays favourites as their Dad and even Natalie Portman was stronger here than we've seen her in a while which is refreshing, but there were still some uneven moments.

Although this is clearly a film about war, family & loss what really stood our for me was the believeable family dynamics and I loved how much everyday life they showed. The kids were great especially Baliee Madison as Isabelle. What was particularly unique here was that the kids perspective is shared and it's so real, not sugar coated at all. Jim Sheridan certainly has a knack for this as it was also showcased in In America. Films often present kids as pretty cookie cutter and unaffected but they are no strangers to learning how to deal with things and also for unique relationships to those around them. This was refreshing and touching to see.

Although these family dynamics and the acting were highlights for me, I can see that it has a completely different appeal to people who are, or have family that are serving in the military. I can see how this film create an relatable scenario with many different characters that you can sympathize and empathize with and allows you to see it from different points of view. In that respect it's very powerful and I think it will reach out to a lot of people.

Warnings: Torture, violence

Shannon's Overall View:
I wanted to love it more
I'll watch it again
I'd recommend it as a solid drama

16 minutes of preshow including 9 commercials and 5 previews: Edge of Darkness, The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus, Crazy Heart, Extraordinary Measures and Nine

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© Shannon Ridler, 2009

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