Synopsis: A young man comforts his older brother’s wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan.
Release Date: December 4, 2009 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, War
Made up of two drastically different plot lines that inevitably come together in the end, Brothers is full of so much tension and anticipation you forget all time exists while watching. It is about two very different men. One the decorated marine with the beautiful wife and children; a picture perfect life. The other an ex-con who has never accomplished anything or had a goal to speak of besides trying to break free of his older brothers shadow. When the marine, Sam (Tobey Maguire), is believed dead in Afghanistan his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhall) takes it upon himself to step in and help with his children and widow. Then things start to get complicated (and very interesting) because while everyone at home is grieving and trying to move on with their lives Sam is a prisoner of war facing the unimaginable and doing things one cannot even fathom ever coming to terms with. This juxtaposition of tone in the film is done wonderfully by the Director Jim Sheridan as he glides between home and Afghanistan. One moment you are in the trenches of the desert, watching a marine harden and change before your eyes. The next finds you at home where everyone is experiencing playful times. The viewer knows Sam is alive and it only makes the sexual tension and relationships that are building at home appear even naughtier than they normally would. A constant state of will they or won’t they, will he make it home or will he not, is there hope for a man to live a normal life again after what he has seen and done…the questions are endless. With all of the questions it raises it never completely provides answers. I think this is one of the strongest features the movie holds. Nothing is tied up into a neat little package at the end. All is not forgiven or forgotten. Life does not ever return to normal. Everything has changed but as a viewer we will never fully know the fate that awaits the characters. We do know one thing for certain, if anyone ever finds the videotape all hell is going to break loose again.
It is a correct statement to say that everyone in the film performs well. Jake Gyllenhall plays the tortured soul of a bad boy trying to redeem himself exceptionally well. It comes very natural to him and you are immediately drawn in to the aura that is Jake. Especially when you see him playing with the children. It is hard to not wish he and Grace were a family. Most of all though is how well the emotion registers on his face. Be it joy or sadness or longing his emotional range is used to its fullest advantage and with excellent results. Natalie Portman as Grace, the grieving widow, is not a very well rounded character. Her character arc is somewhat shallow and underdeveloped. Where she shines though is when on screen with Tommy or Sam. With Sam she is much milder, almost timid, especially when he returns home. Her eyes are always looking around and surveying the situation when it comes to being with him and it is off putting to watch. Portman definitely understood the turmoil of her character and exhibited it to the best level possible given what little she had to work with. The most surprising and dare I say it excellent performance came from Tobey Maguire as Sam. In the beginning of the film we do not get a good sense of exactly who Sam is besides doting father and husband and prodigal son. During his scenes in Afghanistan you will become awestruck. His entire demeanor changes and he resonates a collective cool until he inevitably snaps. This mental break is when Maguire takes Sam to an entirely new level of existence and for the viewer he becomes downright frightening because one moment he is once again the loving family man and the next an unpredictable schizoid. Take one look at his face and into his eyes and there is not a second where you do not believe this a broken mentally unstable man. On their own all three of the main actors performances stand out but it is when they share the screen that you truly see what a great ensemble cast they are together, each delivering a special layer to the story.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Jim Sheridan
- Producer(s): David BenioffNatalie Portman (Grace Cahill)
- Screenwriter(s): Jake Gyllenhaal (Tommy Cahill)Carey Mulligan (Cassie Willis)Tobey Maguire (Sam Cahill)
- Cast: Jay CassidyFrederick ElmesTony Fanning
- Editor(s): Durinda Wood
- Cinematographer: Thomas NewmanGreat FX
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer:
- Casting Director(s):
- Music Score:
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA