‘Brothers’ Slow But Powerful

BrothersWith an all-star cast of Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal, how can you go wrong?  Well, let’s stop right there because Everybody’s Fine sported the likes of Robert De Niro, Kate Beckinsale and Drew Barrymore and that movie was a sloth-like downer.  Fortunately, the same does not hold true for Brothers which made its box office debut this past weekend.  Tobey Maguire plays Captain Sam Cahill of the United States Marine Corps, who is married to the very beautiful Grace Cahill (Natalie Portman).  Soon after is the introduction of Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), Sam’s brother, who has just completed his prison sentence and faces life back in society. 

It is also revealed that Sam is shipping out to Afghanistan in the very near future and spends his remaining days at home with his wife, two daughters and the rest of his family.  There is an incessant build of tension that starts out ever so slightly and builds throughout the film’s progression.  We find the mounting aggression within the family, as well as dealing with Sam’s pending duty abroad.  During Sam’s tour, brother Tommy stops by the house occasionally and visits the girls and Grace, who seemingly despises Tommy.  The two eventually sort out their differences, but tragedy hits home when news arrives that the Blackhawk Sam and his squad were riding in crashes.  At home, the word is Sam perished in the disaster.   

Things change back Stateside as Grace warms up to Tommy and she begins to do more than just tolerate him.  After some time captive in the rocky terrain of the Afghan mountains, Sam is found alive and makes his return home.  However, you don’t experience the travesty that he did and come back unscathed, mentally speaking especially.  Never have we seen Tobey Maguire fulfilling a role with such ferocity as he carries out in Brothers.  His wide-eyed, shell-shocked intensity is borderline spooky and I’m not sure how he researched or prepared for this role, but whatever he did, it worked.  The chemistry shared by Maguire, Portman and Gyllenhaal is convincing to the last, but the movie suffers from too much dead air time.

You will find there are several scenes of excessive contemplation in the film.  I’m not saying people in the various characters’ situations wouldn’t behave like this.  Quite the contrary, I’m just saying you have to retain the audience’s interest.  Their attention is at stake and a film with so many pauses can put that attention span in danger.  At times, it felt like this production was a three-hour epic when its runtime is actually just shy of two. 

Slow points aside though, Brothers gets the point across in dramatic fashion.  From Maguire’s vein-popping fit of rage, Portman’s honest tears and Gyllenhaal’s comedic timing, this movie features a full spectrum of emotions, extremely well complemented by the thespian talents of the two young girls that played the Cahill’s daughters; Bailee Madison (Isabelle) and Taylor Geare (Maggie).  Both were great little actresses and based on Bailee’s performance in this film, I would think she has a solid acting career in front of her if she wants it.     

Brothers is certainly worth a rental if not a viewing in the theaters right now.  All in all, it is a strong piece that will keep you on the edge of your seat through some scenes, while having you check your watch on others.  The acting is unquestionably solid, but the film will have to ride through some unfavorable press to bring in success.  Brave the December cold and head out to theaters to see Brothers.

Brothers Theatrical Poster




2 Responses to “‘Brothers’ Slow But Powerful”

  1. Brian White

    I contemplated all weekend long over seeing this film.

    I have heard nothing but good things about Tobey’s performance, but I have also come across nothing but mixed reviews among the critics.

    Here’s a question that will help solidify an answer from my undecisive mind over seeing it or not. (Brian raises his hand, hoping Gregg will call upon him and “presto”…he does!)…”Gregg…Will you buy this on Blu-ray when it comes out?”

  2. Gregg

    Will I buy this on Blu-ray…hmmm…it’s not a movie you can just pop in and watch any time like G.I. Joe. It is not an upper of a film. Nevertheless, yes, I think I will buy this if the price is right.