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Master story teller Jim Sheridan has brought us an English language adaptation of the 2004 Danish film Brødre. In Brothers, the director who’s known for his work on My Left Foot and In America, decides to tackle the effects of war on the relationships of a tight knit family. Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal lead the cast in this eye opening tale about death, love, and betrayal.

Check out our review below…

The Players:

  • Director: Jim Sheridan
  • Writer: David Benioff, Susanne Bier and Aders Thomas Jensen (Brødre)
  • Cast: Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Shepard, Mare Winningham, Clifton Collins Jr.

The Plot:

Brothers centers on a military family led by Sam and Grace Cahill (Maguire and Portman), high school sweethearts who are the parents of two young daughters. Sam is the older brother of Tommy, an ex-con who’s been recently released from prison. When Sam’s shipped out for another tour in Afghanistan his helicopter is shot down while on duty. The family is notified of his death, causing Grace and Tommy to pick up the pieces in the aftermath. While trying to heal, the unlikely pair develop a close relationship, which causes a rift when Sam unexpectedly returns. He’s a changed man, suffering from post traumatic stress disorder and unable to communicate the horror he saw overseas.

The Good:

  • Tobey Maguire: It’s hard to think of Maguire as a threatening force, but his portrayal of Sam Cahill was terrifying and unnerving. His reenactment of a soldier suffering from post traumatic stress disorder was very honest and real.
  • The Love Triangle: Unlike most films that have this type of underlying love story, it doesn’t lay it on thick. There is a brewing connection between Grace and Tommy but it’s not the main focus of the film.
  • Cinematography: A lot of the war scenes, especially the parts that took place in captivity were shot in a documentary style. They had a raw, edginess to them that made you feel as if you were watching the footage on CNN and not in a theater.
  • Bailee Madison: Both young actresses were on their game, but the youngest daughter in particular is talented beyond her years. Madison showed a range of emotion from a child that you wouldn’t expect someone of her age to understand let alone project.

The Bad:

  • Screenplay: The script for Brothers makes you think while you’re in the theater, but once the film is over it leaves you. There’s no lasting effect from the events that take place within the story. It’s not generic, but it’s not overtly unique either.
  • Clifton Collins Jr: Collins played Sam’s superior officer and his part was very cut and dry. His character is used to progress the military aspect of the story, but whenever he’s onscreen he doesn’t capture your attention. His part is very one dimensional and could have been played by anybody.


Brothers is an honest look at a family dealing with the after effects of war. It highlights the strain it puts on relationships and how it severs connections that were once strong. It will definitely make you think, but it’s not a life altering film.

Brothers hits theaters everywhere on December 4, 2009.

Rating: 7/10


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