Tuesday, December 1, 2009

War Brings Tragedy Home For These Brothers

War movies are a Hollywood favorite, they entertain as well as being informative, sometimes they make a political statement that is so obscured it is almost unseen and sometimes they make one so loud it echos long after walking out of the screening. Director Jim Sheridan brings his new story to the screen, he has a unique way of telling a story that makes you care deeply for his characters and when they cry it impacts you deep in your core. With "Brothers" he tells the story of The Cahill Family, and what happens when tragedy strikes in their midst. Brothers is a remake of the Danish film Brødre, where one brother went off on a peace keeping mission and the other stayed behind and became a better person to support his brothers wife. In Brothers things are a little more defined and trouble is soon knocking at their door.

Capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is happily married to Grace (Natalie Portman) they have two daughters, the older precocious Isabelle (Bailee Madison) and the younger Maggie (Taylor Geare), the family appears perfect but they, like most families have some troubles as well, dad, Hank (Sam Shepard) drinks, and is more stubborn than loving, Sam's brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is getting out of jail, as Sam has reenlisted to go to Afghanistan for another tour. Trouble starts when the family is together for the first time and Hank makes it clear to everyone that he respects Sam but cares less for Tommy.

During his tour, Sam's helicopter takes enemy fire, Sam and Private Joe Willis (Patrick Flueger) survive, but back home, the marines have sent a messenger and a Chaplain (Kevin Wiggins) to tell Grace that Sam is dead. Tommy steps up and decides that he will change his stripes and protect and help Sam's family. he helps to redecorate her kitchen and slowly Grace sees Tommy for the caring person he is. Things do get decidedly hairy one night when Tommy kisses Grace, things could have gone further but they are stopped before crossing the line.

Not to give anything away, the movie makes it obvious from the start that the two marines survive, it is what comes after the two men are sold to the Taliban, the torture the two men face is extreme, it is mainly off screen but we do see the consequences of it. When Sam is forced to do something that he believed himself incapable of his world is forever shattered, when he is rescued and told he is going home he responds that he wants to speak to his wife. having some problems that Sam thinks he can deal with himself, he goes home and things slowly get out of hand, when he confronts Tommy and asks if he slept with Grace, he doesn't believe Tommy when he tells him they didn't sleep together, things go from bad to worse when Isabelle gets upset at Maggie's birthday party and tells Sam that mom would rather sleep with Uncle Tommy, and that she has been doing it every day.

The Oscar buzz is sure to surround this film, it is the best work I have seen by both Maguire and Gyllenhaal, Portman does a fine job with the limited script she is given. The film itself is not an anti war film although it could have been, the previews make it appear to be a family drama and that is exactly what it is. The family at the core of the story isn't perfect ,they struggle with the day to day like everyone else and they are barely making it. The film is more about the family and their emotions not the war itself, little scene time is actually given to the war and it pays off in a big way. I found myself fully immersed into their struggles to cope, on a daily basis. When Sam is thought to be dead, grace has to deal with these struggles alone and when Tommy steps up she begins to see him for more than the loser she had up till now believed him to be.

I give Brothers a 4 and on my avoidance scale a 0, the torture scenes may keep a few light hearted people away, they are not graphic but some viewers may wince at a few scenes, this movie comes around at a time when thirty thousand more men and women are being called to duty, and the story may resonate with several families. If you or a loved one has a son or daughter in the service take them to see this heart warming family drama, I can not say any thing bad about this film Sam Shepard plays the mean drunk to perfection and when he comes around and accepts Tommy for what he is, it isn't cheap and all mushy like Hollywood likes. We do get the happy ending and we know in these situations the ending isn't always happy, here though it works, just because of its simplicity and charm.

Brothers is rated R for Language and Some Disturbing Content
Running time is 1 hr. 50 mins.

1 comment:

Eric Davidson said...

Brothers is easily the most moving film I have seen in months, amazing performances all around; I left the movie feeling 'wowed'