When a decorated Marine goes missing overseas, his black-sheep younger brother cares for his wife and children at home—with consequences that will shake the foundation of the entire family.
"Brothers" tells the powerful story of two siblings, thirtysomething Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) and younger brother Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal), who are polar opposites. A Marine about to embark on his fourth tour of duty, Sam is a steadfast family man married to his high school sweetheart, the aptly named Grace (Natalie Portman), with whom he has two young daughters (Bailee Madison, Taylor Grace Geare). Tommy, his charismatic younger brother, is a drifter just out of jail who's always gotten by on wit and charm. He slides easily into his role as family provocateur on his first night out of prison, at Sam's farewell dinner with their parents, Elsie (Mare Winningham) and Hank Cahill (Sam Shepard), a retired Marine.
Shipped out to Afghanistan, Sam is presumed dead when his Black Hawk helicopter is shot down in the mountains. At home in suburbia, the Cahill family suddenly faces a shocking void, and Tommy tries to fill in for his brother by assuming newfound responsibility for himself, Grace, and the children.
The stars are the very reason why people would pick up this DVD. We’ve got Tobey Maguire, whom we all know is Spider-Man. He plays a committed family man who is also a Marine captain that will do America proud with his dedication to duty. We’ve got Jake Gyllenhaal, whom we all know is “the other cowboy” in Brokeback Mountain (2005). He plays the good for nothing convict brother of Maguire’s never do wrong character who has just been released from prison. Then we’ve got Natalie Portman, whom we all know is Queen Amidala of planet Naboo from the Star Wars saga. She plays a dedicated wife who takes very good care of her family while Maguire’s Marine captain goes on duty to protect the country.
So what happens when we have these three bright and shining stars coming together in movie? We pay extra attention to them, of course.
In this Jim Sheridan directed movie based on a 2004 Danish film of the same name, Gyllenhaal’s black sheep character has to comfort his brother’s (Maguire’s highly respected Marine captain character) wife and children (Portman and two adorable girls played by Bailee Madison and Taylor Grace Geare) when he goes missing in Afghanistan. Fast forward a few months and cue the melodrama – Maguire returns home and in what originally could have been a happy ending, all hell breaks loose when betrayal, paranoia and jealousy enter the picture. What we have would be an explosion of intense emotions and painful torments.
A movie like that is the perfect platform for actors to showcase their abilities to emote. It is also one of those movies which actors can squeeze every last teardrop, hoping that someone in the Oscar panel would appreciate the extremes they underwent to portray the agony and suffering these tortured characters went through. So here we have Maguire, Gyllenhaal and Portman, who are already doing a good job in other movies, coming together in this gloomy movie to pitch their acting skills against each other.
To be fair, all three do a fairly good job in engaging audiences, but the immediate attention has to go to Maguire, who gets to play a once perfect family man who breaks suffers a mental breakdown. This also means, compared to his co stars, Maguire gets to scream a lot, cry a lot, destroy a perfectly beautiful kitchen and pull a gun on his brother in a frantic showdown. Yes, this spells M-E-L-O-D-R-A-M-A.
But we are not complaining, because this well produced movie managed to capture our attention for 115 minutes. You can also watch out for strong supporting performances from Sam Shepard (The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford) and Carey Mulligan (An Education). There are also engaging war sequences, furious interrogation scenes and some tender touching moments to go with the melodrama. A pity for the cast and crew though, because we already know from this year’s Oscars that the movie didn’t exactly work for them to earn any nominations.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The movie’s visual transfer is fine, and is presented in its original English audio track.
by John Li
Posted on 19 April 2010