Based on Susanne Bier’s volatile Swedish film of the same name, Jim Sheridan’s ‘Brothers’ tells the story of two siblings who have little in common, except mutual respect.
Captain Sam Cahill (Maguire) has it all; an outstanding military record, a beautiful wife (Portman), two beautiful daughters and an adoring extended family. His younger brother Tommy (Gyllenhaal), however, is about to be released from jail following an armed robbery and doesn’t have anything to call his own, least of all the support of his extended family. The only one fighting Tommy's corner is his big bro, who is about to return to Afghanistan.
When Sam goes missing in action, Tommy finally grows up and becomes the man everyone always hoped he would be. As the family struggle to come to terms with their loss, the biggest challenge of all awaits around the corner.
It’s hard to believe that the latest film from multi-Oscar-nominated ‘My Left Foot’ director Sheridan opened to such mediocre reviews and box-office in the US. Perhaps this was due to the hard-hitting, anti-war content mixed with the melodrama's at times weighty moral tone. Regardless, ‘Brothers’ deserves a much warmer welcome.
Bier and co-writer Anders Thomas Jensen’s original 2004 hit dealt with the ugly reality of combat and its long-lasting aftermath on both soldiers and their families. Sheridan and writer David Benioff's remake transfers seamlessly from Europe to America, as the war against the Taliban continues.
The film rests on the shoulders of the three leads and, as is the norm for a Sheridan film, they deliver. Following his ‘In America’ success, he once again draws strong performances from the child actresses; 10-year-old Madison (who plays eldest daughter Isabelle) and eight-year-old Geare (Maggie). My only gripe lies with the overrated Hollywood ending to an otherwise underrated, tense and gripping moral tale.
Keep an ear out for U2’s Golden Globe-nominated song ‘Winter’.