in Review

My Brother and Me


I had no intention of seeing this but some friends from work wanted to go see a movie yesterday and I had the final say. After it came down to Brothers and Armored, both movies that had received relatively mixed reviews I chose Brothers due to my fondness for the cast. Walking away I think it was the right decision, everyone enjoyed it and I’m not really sure why it’s received such a lukewarm response. The acting was great and the story was one of tense confrontations and powerful drama.

Directed by acclaimed Irish director Jim Sheridan known for his Daniel-Day Lewis collaborations; My Left Foot, In the Name of the Father and The Boxer, Brothers is more or less a remake of the 2004 Danish film of the same name. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a marine captain ready to embark on another tour of duty in Afghanistan. A responsible and respected husband to Grace (Natalie Portman) and father of two, Sam’s black sheep brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is released just before his departure. Strongly disliked by Grace and even more so by his own father, things change for Tommy after Sam goes missing overseas. Stepping up to help Grace and her children it doesn’t take long for a bond to form between Tommy and Sam’s wife and kids… But wuh oh, a couple months go by and Sam is alive and that’s when it gets heated.

A majority of the film’s first half is split between back home with Tommy and Sam in Afghanistan. Here we see Sam and another soldier from Sam’s hometown struggling to survive as prisoners of war, which leads to Sam committing a life changing act of violence. This first part of the film teeters between more heartfelt moments with Tommy and war drama with Sam. The acting on both sides is incredibly strong with Tobey Maguire and surprisngly his character’s oldest daughter (Bailee Madison, who’s only ten) being the standouts. The at home segments may be a little over polished with a Hollywood coat but it’s never cheesy and provides plenty of smiles along with some hard hitting drama

Brothers gets damn tense once an unstable Sam returns home. Blinded by paranoia and Posttraumatic stress disorder, Sam’s suspicion that his brother and wife have slept together enrages him and leads to lots of shit getting broke and reckless gun firing. I think what makes Brothers work is it’s unpredictability carried by a solid cast and engaging scenario. I wouldn’t be surprised if the original film is superior but this is still a notch above most mainstream Hollywood dramas and it’s even got a sweet U2 song at the end.

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