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Film Review: ‘Brothers’ — Directed By Jim Sheridan

by on Monday, December 14, 2009 at 9:50 am EDT in Arts & Entertainment, Film

In Jim Sheridan’s powerful new movie “Brothers,” he hits his audience with a subject matter that can only be described as emotionally explosive — gut wrenching, at times.  This is not a feel-good movie — not by any stretch, but it is an absolute must-see.  It draws you in, and manages to captivate you long after the final credit line.  The timeliness of the subject matter alone — the human sacrifice made by our troops and their families — makes the movie feel all the more urgent.

Grace Cahill, a military wife (played by Natalie Portman), and her two young daughters are devastated to learn that her husband/their father, Sam Cahill (played by Tobey Maguire), was killed during another tour of duty in Afghanistan.  Unbeknownst to everyone, Sam wasn’t actually killed; he had been captured by an al Qaeda-like group.  He was subjected to physical and emotional torture in a way that would forever alter his mental and emotional stability.  After many months under their capture, American forces finally came, bombed the camps, and rescued him.

Sam’s brother, Tommy (played by Jake Gyllenhaal) — the black sheep of the Cahill family — had been released from prison just before Sam left for his last tour.  Despite his strained relations with most of his family, Tommy and Sam had remained close over the years.   Confronted with his brother’s death, a devastated Tommy turns his attention to helping out a distraught and struggling Grace and her two girls.  You can see where this is headed …

It’s a story of a close family coming undone by circumstances beyond their control.

Jim Sheridan (“In the Name of the Father,” “In America,” “The Story of My Left Foot,” etc.)  is in my top-five of all-time favorite directors.  Natalie Portman delivers one of her strongest performances, to date.  Tobey Maguire is exceedingly believable in each stage of his emotional/mental transformation.  The screenplay was written by David Benioff — a fantastic author in his own right.  His novel City of Thieves was one of the best books I read this year.  So considering all this remarkable talent — it’s no wonder this movie came off as well as it did.  I predict it will be nominated for several Oscars.

Rating:   A

Here’s the trailer: