At first glance, this trailer made this film looked dark and brooding. Recently, any film that I see with cheating husbands or wives makes my stomach churn. I’ll refrain from sharing my opinions on such, but suffice to say, I think it is deplorable behavior. The trailer made “Brothers” look like this: marine goes off to war, is presumed dead, his brother sleeps with his wife, and marine makes surprise return home. Well, that just is not this movie.
I won’t spoil anything for you. I am not saying any more about the plot. What I can tell you is that this is an OUTSTANDING film! It’s engaging and filled with top-notch performances. Tobey Maguire gives the best performance of his career hands-down. This was Oscar material! Natalie Portman is fine in it, seemingly very subtle and down-to-earth with this role. But again, Maguire is stellar! His performance goes the full range from nice guy to lost to maniacal to stable to unhinged to the perfect soldier. It is a delight to watch his changes in this role.
Jake Gyllenhaal makes a great contrast to Maguire in this film as the lead character’s brother, Tommy. He plays the ex-con well and he even looks the part. Though the film doesn’t dwell much on the past between the brothers, enough of it is in there for you to get the gist. In fact, I think the movie succeeded better without that aspect of the story. Tommy is a character you kind of root for even though you THINK you know where the film is going with that character.
This is one of those movies that I hemmed & hawed about watching. I think it was because I felt I already knew how the story was going to go. Heck, I even thought I knew the ending. Foolish me, I was WAY wrong! I can say that the film has a great supporting cast, and I am not surprised by the deft use of that cast in poignant and precise ways. I think the director (Jim Sheridan) really had a great feel for the material and knew just where to put that talent to maximize the effect of every scene. It just worked on so many levels that I am a little embarrassed to say that it took me this long to watch “Brothers”.
I give this one a sterling recommendation! This is serious dramatic material and the subject matter is too much for younger audiences. I’d save this one for a date-night at home, when you are in the mod for a great drama with a roller-coaster of emotional depth at its core.
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.