Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Nog Watches "Three of the Greatest Actors of Our Generation" in Brothers!

I found Brothers compelling and intense while I was watching, but it didn't really resonate for me afterwards. However, as an old-fashioned acting showcase (starring, according to one of its trailers, "three of the greatest actors of our generation"), it's mostly enjoyable. Tobey Maguire pretty successfully transcends his geeky, Peter Parker/Spiderman image as Sam, a damaged, unstable veteran of Afghanistan, and Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman share some nice, natural moments together as Sam's brother and wife, who bond while Sam is believed dead at war. I think the film wants to say something very complex about identity (and perhaps the original Dutch film did? yes, this is a remake), but the ideas don't feel completely coherent. We certainly see a reversal of identity between the two brothers, as the "nice" brother Sam is forced to become cruel at war while the "bad" brother, Tommy, assumes the unfamiliar role of stand-in father and husband. But there's a more interesting idea at work regarding Sam that never fully gets off the ground: it seems that war not only changes him, but literally remakes him (his family simply does not know him upon his return). Ultimately, there's nothing here in terms of substance we haven't seen done better in films like Coming Home or even the more recently (unfairly neglected) In the Valley of Elah, but I'd say the actors make it worth a look (and director Jim Sheridan coaxes incredible performances out of Sam's two young daughters: perhaps they'll go on to become the "greatest actors" of their generation!).


  1. Dude, I totally reference COMING HOME in my review, too, but for slightly different reasons. At any rate. . .yeah, I kind of feel the same way. The film doesn't quite linger, though I will say that there's one GREAT scene: the one with the balloon -- 'nough said. And I too commented on the fine performances by the young girls. Actually, while watching some of the scenes with Maguire and the children -- especially the one where he doesn't get his daughter's dinner-table joke -- I thought of INVASION OF THE BODY SNATCHERS and how you could take a story like this and give it a sci-fi twist. I thought it was a good film, but a little too safe. Still, there's plenty in it that makes it worth watching. P.S. Didn't Benioff write X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE?

  2. Yes, the balloon bit is excellent.

    Good point about Body Snatchers. Yeah, there's just more they could do with these issues of identity than they seem willing to do.

    Don't know about the Wolverine thing but, if so, Benioff is improving!!