Sunday, March 21, 2010

Brothers - Spoils of War, Crumbs on a Family

In the scorching drama "Brothers", directed by the always reliable Jim Sheridan ("My Left Foot", "In The Name of the Father" & "The Field"), a sibling rivalry comes to the fore when a missing marine Sam (intensely scary Tobey Maguire) is rescued from the clutches of the Taliban in Afghanistan. Sam comes home scarred from the inside out, and his family is feeling all the scraps of his shriveled sanity. Meanwhile, Tommy (dangerously sexy Jake Gyllenhaal) - the family's blacksheep - had been mending his ways and taking care of Sam's family - wife Grace (the endearing Natalie Portman) and their 2 daughters.

The film examines the family dynamics of jealousy and the limits of human frailty. How much can one take without exploding personal shrapnels of grief on your family?

This movie boasts of searing performances all around. Maguire ("Spider-man") is uncharacteristically intense, it was almost unbearable watching him simmer. He had absolute control to a role that could have easily gone ballistic. Gyllenhaal is easily sympathetic, taking on a role that he lived out with rich nuances making Tommy "real". Natalie Portman is charismatic from start to finish.

This is an excellent remake from 2004's "Brother" - a Danish production directed by Susan Bier ("Things We Lost in the Fire", "After the Wedding"). This was also a superior work - which became one of the 100 Favorite Movies of the Decade by "Film Experience".

Doing a Bruce Lee.

"Is this smile good enough?" asks Jake.

Spidery pose.

The Danish original "Brothers" (2004) by Susan Bier.

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