MOVIE RATING: 4 stars (B+)
(Updated February 18, 2012)
Brothers (2009) is one of those incredible indie films with incredible talent that was incredibly UNDER-rated when it came out in theaters. Even though it was a remake of a Danish film of the same name from 2004, it felt very fresh and American to me. Having watched the behind-the-scenes extras on the DVD, which include scenes from the Danish film, it seems to me that this story was even better told from an American point of view. I don’t want to give away the story since this is a movie all about story and characters, but basically it’s about 2 brothers and their family, set against an Iraq/Afghanistan war story. Tobey Maguire’s character Sam Cahill gets captured while stationed in Afghanistan and is assumed to be dead. His wife Grace, played by Natalie Portman, grieves and works to move on with her life after this news and the funeral. Sam’s trouble-making brother Tommy, played with understated brilliance by Jake Gyllenhaal, becomes the replacement father and husband for Grace gradually. Of course a relationship develops between Tommy and Grace and that causes trouble when it turns out Sam is not dead and returns home from Afghanistan.
I think what is so brilliant about this movie is the complexity of the characters, but also the simplicity of the them at the same time. The acting by the three main young actors is great and was sorely overlooked by the Oscars. The Trailer does not do the movie justice, although there are some great scenes from the movie in the trailer. This is one of those movies, like Crazy Heart (2009), that has to be watched to be fully appreciated. This is up there with my favorite movies of 2009: Crazy Heart, (500) Days of Summer, It Might Get Loud, A Single Man, and Up In The Air.