Review: Brothers (2009)

By Sean Gardner

Brothers interested me on a few different levels. First, having two brothers myself, I am always interested in seeing how movies portray that particular family dynamic. I want to see if the experiences in the film are similar to my experiences. The second reason Brothers intrigued me was Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire, who are two of my favorite actors. They are both extremely talented and can disappear into their characters.

However, Brothers doesn’t really connect with me on either of those two levels. Gyllenhaal and Maguire play brothers. Maguire, a war hero to the community and his family, is about to go on another tour to Afghanistan. Gyllenhaal, recently released from prison, receives no such affection from anyone. Unfortunately, once Maguire does leave for Afghanistan, he and Gyllenhaal have very few scenes together. They never really get to play off of each other like I was hoping to see. I didn’t really believe them as brothers. The film’s emotional weight relies on all of the other family relationships besides theirs; Gyllenhaal with his father, Natalie Portman (who plays Maguire’s wife) and Gyllenhaal, Maguire and his children after he comes back from Afghanistan.

This movie, ironically, would’ve been better if it cut out the Gyllenhaal character and just focused on Maguire’s character. What he had to do and go through during his tour in Afghanistan is the much more interesting story line. The film drags and suffers when Maguire is not on screen.

Overall, this film is filled with very talented actors with not much to do, besides Maguire. It also doesn’t know if it wants to be about sibling rivalry, or veterans with post traumatic stress. It’s worth checking out if you have nothing to do on a Saturday afternoon.

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