Who knew that Brothers was a remake of a Danish film? See if you can follow me here (it’s not really all that complicated):
Danish movie -> Adapted and remade by Irish director -> American movie
I don’t have anything else on that topic to say other than it’s a funny pedigree for the film.
My roommate has had this movie sitting at home for about three months, so we finally watched it last night.
If you haven’t seen the trailer, it’s about Tobey Maguire going off to war in Afghanistan shortly after his deadbeat brother Jake Gyllenhaal gets released from prison. Tobey goes down in a helicopter and the Marine Corp tells his wife, Natalie Portman, that he’s dead and Jake G and her deal with their loss and fall in love.
Right off the bat, and spoiler alert here, I have to say that the trailers are heavily misleading as to how steamy their romance is. The worst that happens is that they kiss while getting high. That’s seriously it. I mean, they’ve clearly fallen for each other, but nothing progresses beyond that, which causes the most frustrating part about this movie.
The scenes where Portman and Gyllenhaal fall in love are interspersed with Tobey Maguire’s efforts to stay alive in Afghanistan. Things get a little hairy when he’s forced to kill a fellow POW to stay alive. When he’s finally recovered by US forces he’s now a lovely ball of anger, PTSD, and survivor’s guilt ready to be unleashed on suburban America.
When Tobey Maguire is revealed to not be dead and he comes home, one of the first questions he asks Jake G is if he slept with his wife. Instead of outright saying “No,” Jake hems and haws and lets the thread kind of die. This is absurdly stupid. I can understand being worried about your brother being pissed, but if the truth is that you just kissed, even if you’re in love with her, it’s probably better to come clean.
Since Natalie Portman is a more mature adult, she comes clean to Tobey when asked about Jake. She says outright that they kissed once and it was because she missed him so much. Maguire calls her a liar, probably because his idiot brother made it seem like more happened, and that sets up more drama later.
There are two huge beefs I have with this movie. For some reason, Tobey Maguire’s daughter shows an animal fear of her father in every scene after he gets back. I don’t blame her for this, she’s only a kid and her acting skills just aren’t up to par to handle the kind of subdued fear that would seem more likely, but her expressions are painful to watch. Even worse is her tirade that her mother would rather sleep with Jake G. I just don’t buy that a girl of age eight or nine would say something like that.
Worse still is how abruptly the movie ends. After the aforementioned dinner scene, Maguire comes home, wrecks the kitchen that his brother helped install to deal with his own grief, and gets into a standoff with the cops after pulling a gun on Jake G. Cut to the next scene and Portman is visiting him in a VA hospital, implying that he’s finally getting the care he needs.
That’s it. Fade to black. No resolution of the complex love triangle that’s formed. Nothing. She’s terribly understanding of the fact that he pointed a gun at his brother, himself, and fired a shot into the air. There’s nothing wrong with that, she’s just there to love him again. His brother has no resolution in this at all. It just feels like either a good chunk of the movie was left on the cutting room floor or they thought they’d explored these characters enough. I’d rather they have cut out a lot of the Afghanistan nonsense and instead added in more time after these events to show how they’re actually dealing with it.
I mean, the message of the movie is that these soldiers are damaged and they’re not getting the help they need. What does the movie do when it seems like these characters are about to start dealing with their problems in a healthy, mature way? End. We don’t get to see him get the help he needs. The movie is also ignoring the true plight of the soldier. The true struggle to acclimate to society once again and it does the movie a terrible disservice.
One last thing: the wife of the guy Tobey Maguire kills in the movie is Carey Mulligan who is super cute and great at everything she does for the one scene she appears in except for faking an American accent. Her Britishness pokes through just a touch too much. A valiant effort, but not quite there. I just wish she got more screen time because she’s dynamite on camera.
Rent this one if it sounds interesting, but you might be better of skipping it. The Hurt Locker is the superior war movie of 2009, even though it’s got a completely different focus.