Comments on watching and making films.

Thursday, December 31, 2009


I was a little weary of this film when I first saw the posters popping up around L.A. I like Natalie Portman. I'll watch pretty much anything she's in. I don't like Tobey Maguire. The only things I've ever REMOTELY liked him in was The Ice Storm. There's the fact that its directed by Jim Sheridan, who I like, so that was a plus, but then there's Jake Gyllenhaal. No offense, but Jake hasn't done much that was worth while since Donnie Darko.

The film concerns the capture, and presumed death of Captain Sam Cahill (Maguire) while he's in Iraq. The Army assumes his death, and reports it to his wife, Grace (Portman), who ends up telling his Father, Step Mother, and brother Tommy (Gyllenhaal). Feeling guilty about being a screw up, while his brother bravely served his country, Tommy tries to make up for his feelings by helping out Grace in anyway that he can. In doing so, over time, Tommy and Grace begin to develop some rudimentary feelings for each other, which culminates in a case after they've smoked pot together. Before they can take it any further, though, Sam is rescued from his Iraqi prison and shipped back home. But the weeks of mental torture he suffered at the hands of his captors has left him fragile and angry.

Brother's is a remake of a foreign film, but Sheridan has managed to make it so incredibly American, that there isn't the faintest sense of its true origin. Maybe that's the strength and universality of the story, though. Tobey Maguire finally delivers a performance that's worth all of the hype that he's gotten over the years, and Portman is perfectly solid, as well as Gyllenhaal. The film feels like so much of what middle America is in this moment, and I think that is a huge compliment to Sheridan - That he has captured this moment, in both time and place, and captured the madness that war incites in everyone that has been touched by it. Brothers was intense, and furious, and engaging. A great film.

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