Review of Movie "Brothers" by "the accidental theorist_78"


Film Review
Starring Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhall
This film is essentially a post 9 11 war piece on the affects of war on the average American family. The main plot of the film focuses on the contrasting lives of two brothers, who live in entirely different ways. Maguire is cast in the role of the eldest son who can do no wrong. Having been a model student, he follows in his father’ s footsteps in joining the army after he graduates and goes on to travel fast up the ranks to leading a team that is eventually posted to serve in Iraq. His brother, Gyllenhall, is quite the opposite, more an average academic performer; he graduates school to end up in a very humble job as a carpenter. This and many other aspects of his life are put into turmoil when he is arrested and imprisoned over a crime, which is not revealed to us in the plot of the film.
Their Father, is very a traditional individual, who believes in a very ethical clean way of living. This is clearly to be commended but there is a strong overtone of Old Testament belief in his utter refusal to forgive his son when he emerges from prison. He pursues an intolerant stance with Gyllenhall for most of the opening part of the film, with several scenes bordering on physical violence between the two. It is a scene that unfortunately more people can identify with in as far as a teenage son clashes with his father on a career path or a moral dilemma but it is very poignantly delivered to the audience through the medium of potential physical violence between father and son. It slowly emerges that the father has suffered from alcoholism in the past and this goes someway to explaining his intolerance towards his son’s problems.
The film at this juncture paints a colourfully contrasting perspective of light in the form of Tobey Maguire, very much the embodiment of the American hero versus darkness in the form of Jake Gyllenhall, who is very much the King Lear of the piece, more sinned against than sinning but none the less a dark character.
The film is then turned on its head from the contrast of personality to the contrast of the stress brought to the American family by the announcement that Maguire will be going to Iraq. From here on in, we see the strain that is brought to bear on his character versus the strain it brings on this wider family and that of his wife, played brilliantly by Natalie Portman.
These two sub plots are brought abruptly together in the form of his capture by Alkaieda whilst on duty. Here we see all his moral beliefs put to the test time and time again and in contrast, we see his wife put to her own moral test through her belief that he has been killed and her consequent actions there after. However, we are witness to a truly horrific scene where Maguire forced by his captors to choose his own life over that of his compatriot also captured, perpetuates a scene of barbaric violence when he brutally bludgeons the other man in captivity to death. This part of the film was deeply disturbing.
Here on in, the film changes totally and utterly and we see a very clever role reversal. Maguire is found in Iraq and rescued. He is not the same person. He returns home a broken man. His brother, Gyllenhall, has during this period very much flourished in his brother’s absence. He takes on more responsibility with helping out with both practical support of his family and also through emotional support of his sister in law. A potential romance presents itself but he resists the temptation as does to her credit Portman, despite her fragile emotional state.
Without wanting to give away too much of the ending, in order to encourage people to go and see this film, we see Maguire completely break down under the duress of the killing he committed. The film ending is well executed and gives the viewer food for thought upon exiting the cinema. One suggestion from myself would be to surrender yourself to the plot of this film. Whilst it is yet another add on to the ever growing number of post 9-11 films being spawned though American consciousness brought about by the constant presence of Iraq in the life of the average American, the film explores other themes such as family relationships, infidelity, ethical dilemmas and the ability to repent and forgive.
To sum up, take the time to see this film, it is well worth it!

Article posted on 21st of March 2010