Film, Drama
2 out of 5 stars
3 out of 5 stars
(6user reviews)
As movies inspired by the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan continue to arrive on screens, it’s impossible not to compare like with like. This noble but flat American remake of Susanne Bier’s 2004 Danish film about the domestic fallout of foreign campaigns sits drably in the middle of the bunch. Though well-meaning with its apolitical and humane perspective, it’s also ordinary, forgettable and saddled with an entire section set abroad that’s unnecessary and damaging to the film’s overall effect.

Tobey Maguire is Sam, a blue-collar US Marine, wife to Grace (Natalie Portman), father to two young daughters and brother to Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), who is fresh out of jail, a bit of a waster but essentially a softie who is forever bullied by his father (Sam Shepard), a damaged Vietnam vet. After Sam heads to Afghanistan, he’s soon missing, presumed dead (we see a superfluous scene of a helicopter crashing). Back home, the family attends a military funeral and soon Grace is reassessing her frosty attitude towards Tommy as he helps her with parenting and putting her life back in order – a process that is blown out of the water by a turn of events that’s unexpected by all involved yet revealed to us much earlier. This would be a far better and certainly more daring film if director Jim Sheridan had stuck with Grace’s perspective throughout and allowed us to experience life as she does.

The frustrating thing about ‘Brothers’ is that Sheridan, back on more familiar turf after the frankly weird anomaly of the 50 Cent movie ‘Get Rich or Die Tryin’ ’, gives his actors and story more than enough room to breathe by adopting a calm, observational shooting style and allowing scenes to run naturally and find their feet. It’s just that they never do. It takes two-thirds of the film for any scene of real emotional truth or power to emerge – and by then we’re lost, shaking our heads at a missed opportunity to avoid the middle-of-the-road treatment that the presence of U2 and ample soft rock on the soundtrack always threatened.


Release details

Release date:
Friday January 22 2010
105 mins

Cast and crew

Jim Sheridan
Tobey Maguire
Jake Gyllenhaal
Natalie Portman

Average User Rating

2.3 / 5

Rating Breakdown

  • 5 star:0
  • 4 star:1
  • 3 star:2
  • 2 star:2
  • 1 star:0
1 person listening

All rather hackneyed territory but I thought Maguire did a good transformation into someone mentally damaged. Thought Portman was far too glam and probably wrong choice. Pleased about U2 comments as Bono's jaring voice seems to get everywhere.

Usually I don't like Toby Maguire in films, but in all fairness, he deserves an Oscar Nomination for his role as 'Sam' in this otherwise dull movie! Bad ending and alot of grief just for a kiss!

Confession time: In answering a text while walking down the maze of corridors at Cineworld Shaftesbury Avenue, I walked into “Brothers�, not realising I’d done so until the opening credits started. By that time I was wedged in on either side by other people. As I’d already seen “The Boys are Back� once, I settled back to watch “Brothers� instead. So, unusually, I was watching a movie whose review I’d not read, but also I had no idea it was based on Susanne Bier’s 2004 movie. I’ve got to disagree with TO’s review. I thought the footage from Afghanistan put everything in context – especially the suffering of the soldiers. Not only that, the brief footage in the missile hit crashing helicopter left you with a sense there was no hope for the soldiers. Not knowing the original film, I was perfectly happy. I thought the story was interesting and clear, and it was very well acted. Unusually for children, the two little girls were superb actresses – absolutely superb. Completely convincing. They play a very significant part in the telling of this story. Worth three stars.

I agree it takes a LONG time to get through a lot of predictable plot twists and turns - but once you do get there - for the payoff was immense. Tobey Maguire is magnificent, overshadowing Gyllenhaal in my opinion...I really enjoyed it.

Agreed, review nails it, irritated by gratuitous U2 music and spell it out abc of plot. However I didn't fall asleep as I did in Spiderman 3. Better brothers film this week was The Boys Are Back - see that instead of this.