Didn't this movie come out last year? Or at least earlier this year? I remember seeing trailers for it a long time ago and then they just disappeared. I figured I either missed it or it was going to pop up on DVD at some point from a studio that lost faith in it. I guess I was wrong. It turns out it was just lying low, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting audience. It has now arrived, inflicting its melodrama on the world at large. The question is, does it work? Yes and no.
Brothers is a remake of a 2004 Swedish film called Brødre. I have not seen the film, but I understand it is a lower budget affair that was well received in its native country. Of course, we could not get this on the big screen here, as we all know everyone's apparent aversion to subtitles and world cinema at large. In order to get people to see this story it had to be adapted to the American experience and shot with recognizable faces (although the Swedish film did feature Connie Nielsen). Still, is it any good?
There are elements to like about this film, but overall I cannot say it is a good one. Some of the performances are eye-catching and very effective, but others are just poor and distracting. On top of that, I feel like I have seen this story before. How come it seems that every film that deals with the conflict in the Middle East are either lectures (with Lions for Lambs being the worst offender) or about broken relationships? This is perhaps not true across the board, but it seems like a lot of them fall into these two categories. Brothers falls into the latter as it centers on a shifting family dynamic.
The title refers to the central characters of Sam (Tobey Maguire) and Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal). Sam is a military man, a Marine who has already served a few tours in Afghanistan. He is married to the aptly named Grace (reminds me of another war-themed film, Grace is Gone) and the couple have two young daughters. Tommy, Sam's younger brother, has followed a different path, one paved with crime and disappointment.