Rating: 3/5 stars
Directed by: Jim Sheridan
And starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire
A movie starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire sounds promising. Add in a plot about a man comforting his “deceased” brother’s wife, only for the brother to come back, and you would think that you have a hit on your hands. “Brothers” has all of those attributes, but still somehow misses the mark. While the film is certainly engaging, it is a mixed bag at best.
After bailing his brother Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal) out of jail, Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) ships back to Afghanistan to do another tour of duty. While he is there, he is captured and held prisoner for months by terrorists. Unfortunately, back home, everyone thinks that Sam has died. In the aftermath of his death, Tommy visits Sam’s previously hostile wife Grace to help her with her kids and her kitchen. After the two grow closer, Sam is saved by American troops and returns home. He comes back psychologically damaged and paranoid about what has transpired between his wife and his brother.
Among the film’s chief problems is the script. There were many times throughout the movie when the lines just sounded awkward or out of place. Although it wasn’t a problem for the majority of the movie, the script’s weaknesses are painfully obvious.
Some of the acting, especially Maguire’s, is also problematic. At the end of the film, Maguire acted fantastically as a psychologically abused prisoner of war. But earlier on, remnants of this later persona made the shift less drastic and his earlier personality as loving husband and father less believable. Even before Sam went back to Afghanistan, he was cold and unrelatable. He didn’t seem to fit the personality we were supposed to believe he once had. He was already the empty shell that he later became.
Part of this was enhanced by the fact that in the beginning of the film, Maguire already had the gaunt look that he supposedly acquired as a result of his capture. This also plays into a minor, yet troubling aspect of the film: the timeline. Aside from the gaunt look, Maguire’s hair never grew. Not once in the months he spent as a hostage did his hair look much longer. His beard grew, but his hair didn’t. This may not be a major problem, but it is a concerning missing detail.
Aside from these issues, “Brothers” is a solid movie. The story is highly engrossing, and the acting is great (with the exception previously mentioned). Even with its problems, the movie will keep you interested from start to finish. There is certainly not a dull moment.
“Brothers” is a great idea that was unfortunately marred down by script and continuity issues. Ignoring these issues, though, you are left with a fine movie that will no doubt pull you in and hold you hostage.