A review of ‘Brothers’

By: Hayden Fitzsimons

‘Brothers’ is a 2009 film, by Jim Sheridan, starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman. ‘Brothers,’ as one may suspect, is a film about brothers Sam and Tommy played by Maguire and Gyllenhaal respectively. Sam is a respected marine returning to duty, whereas Tommy was just released from prison after serving for a robbery. In Sam’s absence, Tommy steps in to take care of Sam’s wife Grace, played by Natalie Portman, as well as their two daughters.

The film follows the arcs of all three characters, as both Tommy and Sam change drastically over the course of the film, almost in polar opposite directions.

Sam’s helicopter crashes whilst in Afghanistan, and he is presumed dead. This causes great unrest within the family, greater than there already was. However, Sam survives and is captured by the enemy.

Sam goes through severe hardships while captured, and it changes him nearly completely.

Meanwhile, Tommy and Sam’s family are getting far closer, and everything seems to be going well despite their belief of Sam’s passing.

To go further would likely spoil the film, so I’ll simply state that from here, the emotional turmoil is heightened even further.

Simply put, ‘Brothers’ is deeply emotional, as it follows the cruel effects of war and also the difficulty of family. Nearly every character in this film has their own unique arc which develops them into something they largely weren’t at the start. This heartbreaking writing is one of the film’s strongpoints.

Out of anything in the movie, dialogue, and the way that it is delivered, shines above. For the most part, it’s much of what the film has to offer.

Gyllenhaal and Maguire both deliver far above expectations even if they are both already known for their tear-jerking performances. Both actors complement each other perfectly and are able to bring out the best in one another in addition to Portman’s excellent performance. These performances are awe-inspiring and are the main focus of the film. This leads to the film feeling very natural, realistic, and touching.

However, while the writing and performances are top notch the rest of the film lags behind. Cinematography, score, and most other elements of film, apart from the two previously mentioned, are incredibly bland and/or lacking. The thing is, most viewers will not have a large problem with this, and the film does well enough solely through the acting’s power. Due to this imbalance ‘Brothers’ delivers on its intentions, however it feels held back. It’s almost as if there was much more to this film that wasn’t fleshed out and was simply glossed over.

In all, ‘Brothers’ is quite the good film with some legendary performances and with a riveting and stirring story. ‘Brothers’ reaches the point it most likely intended and would leave most, including myself, both satisfied with the film and emotionally affected.

For those more acquainted with film, ‘Brothers’ has much of the same effect, but is slightly disappointing as it just barely misses out at being an incredible film and has to unfortunately suffice with being a really good film, which most filmmakers would be more than happy to achieve.

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