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February 1, 2011

Movie Review: Brothers (2010)

When I originally saw trailers for this movie, I was intrigued. On the surface, the story seems simple. A man goes off to war and is presumed to have been killed. His brother falls in love with his wife. He returns and is angry. Shit hits the fan. In essence, this assumption is right, but Brothers is so much more than that.

Buy Brothers on DVD and Blu-ray

Tobey Maguire is decorated Marine Captain Sam Cahill, complete with a great family that includes a wife, Grace, portrayed by Natalie Portman, and two young daughters. He is getting ready to head back to Afghanistan for another tour of duty. The day before, he picks up his troublemaker brother Tommy, portrayed by Jake Gyllenhaal, from jail. The two catch up, and the entire family gathers for a goodbye dinner. While stepmom is happy to see everyone together again, dad decides to shame his criminal son with his brother's accomplishments. Of course, that doesn't go well. The next day, Sam heads off and ends up in a helicopter over Afghanistan. Enemy fire comes in, and all are presumed dead. Upon hearing the news, the remaining family adjusts, and brother Tommy takes an active role in the family as any good uncle would. He cleans up his act, and he and Grace become close. I won't reveal the extent of the relationship.

Meanwhile, Sam is trapped in a prison camp, and we see much of what he suffers and some of the horrific things he is forced to do. The filmmakers do a great job in showing us what happens without getting too graphic. They do create a scene that makes you feel for Sam. When he is rescued and returns home, he suspects that something has gone on between Grace and Tommy, and immediately confronts them. This once mild-mannered dad has become a jealous and distrusting maniac. Things get uncomfortable and even violent before it all comes to a head.

The actors all do a fantastic job becoming their characters. I felt empathy for all of them at different times. Gyllenhall plays sketchy quite well. His mannerisms are perfect from the way he sits to the way he holds a fork. I really enjoyed the fact that the story never got too out of control. It was realistic. I can see this scenerio happening and I can see the reactions happening. Everyone and everything was perfect.

Brothers is a remake of a Swedish film of the same name, and I'm interested in seeing the original. I would definitely recommend Brothers to anyone who enjoys a study in human behavior.

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