Viewing your Watchlist and recommended content requires Javascript

  • 15
  • Drama
  • 2009
  • 105 mins

Brothers

Brothers

Synopsis

Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal star as the titular Brothers of the title in a drama of families, relationships and war

About

Brothers is a Jim Sheridan remake of the Danish original by director Susanne Bier in which Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal, in appearance so plausibly relatives it's a wonder they've never been cast as siblings before, play brothers who have fallen into opposing roles as the good son and the bad seed. Maguire is soldier boy Sam, the polished apple of his Vietnam vet dad's eye, while Gyllenhaal plays Tommy, the n'er do well who as the film opens is recently returned from a spell in the clink for some sort of petty robbery. Sam has an adoring wife - his high-school sweetheart Grace (Natalie Portman) - and two cute as buttons kids; the eldest, played by award-winning ten year old child actor Bailee Madison, is one of the most convincing children in a film we've seen in quite a while, and handles tough scenes of grief and betrayal in an entirely believable way.

Occupying melodramatic territory somewhere between Greek tragedy and Jerry Springer, this US remake by Irish director Jim Sheridan has been near-universally seen by critics as falling a little short of Danish director Susanne Bier's original version. It's engaging stuff on its own terms, and if you've not seen the original, chances are you'll get something from it - Maguire's performance in particular deserves the Golden Globe nomination he received.

The tone Brothers strives for is heightened realism, but at its core, as in the original, lies a plot development whose contrivance we simply have to accept. If you like drama with big showdowns and plenty of heartbreak, there's plenty to enjoy here.

Maguire's performance is the standout, while Gyllenhaal only really comes into his own as he mellows in the second half of the film - he's hard to buy as a bearded tough, but an easy sell as a tender father figure to Grace's bereaved daughters. Only one note jars badly: why, in the name of all that is good and holy, do Grace and Tommy have to bond over a U2 song?

Cast & Connections

  • Actor: Jake Gyllenhaal, Sam Shepard, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Bailee Madison
  • Director: Jim Sheridan
  • Screen Writer: David Benioff
  • Producer: Sigurjon Sighvatsson, Ryan Kavanaugh, Michael De Luca

In a nutshell

Not an all-time classic, but worth a watch, Brothers explores the tragic effect of unlikely circumstances on family dynamics, with some success. An engaging turn from Tobey Maguire is the most compelling reason to see this film.

by Catherine Bray

Latest from Film4...

  • Film4 Judy Moody

    Judy Moody And The Not Bummer Summer

    Judy Moody sets out to have the most thrilling summer of her life in this live-action adaptation of Megan McDonald's popular book series

    On Film4: 3 May 3:15PM

  • Film4 Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook

    Bradley Cooper and Jennifer Lawrence star in this Oscar-winning romantic dramedy that deals with the implications of a relationship forming in the midst of mental illness

  • Film4 Silver Linings Playbook

    Silver Linings Playbook on Film4

    Jennifer Lawrence gives an Oscar-winning performance opposite Bradley Cooper in David O. Russell's superior romantic comedy.

  • Film4 The Pact

    The Pact on Film4

    When Annie's sister disappears while organising their mother's funeral in their childhood home, she investigates as an unwelcome presence in the house begins to be felt

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Mike Leigh announces new film, Peterloo

    Mike Leigh's next project will look at Peterloo - the infamous 1819 massacre by government forces at a peaceful pro-democracy rally at St Peter's Field in Manchester, when 700 working people were inju

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Four Film4-backed films selected In Competition at Cannes 2015

    Four Film4-backed films ¿ Todd Haynes¿ Carol, Yorgos Lanthimos' The Lobster, Paolo Sorrentino¿s Youth and Justin Kurzel¿s Macbeth ¿ have been invited into official selection at this year¿s Cannes film

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

  • Set film reminders
  • Build your watchlist
  • Get film suggestions

or Register

Share