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

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

    Serena

    Romantic drama set in Depression-era North Carolina starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.

    On Film4: 3 Oct 9:00PM

  • Film4

    Destry

    Audie Murphy stars in this remake of 1939's Destry Rides Again, which is directed by the man who made that previous version, George Marshall.

    On Film4: 28 Sep 4:25PM

  • Film4

    Macbeth on Film4

    Michael Fassbender and Marion Cotillard star in Justin Kurzel's gripping adaptation of Macbeth, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Film4

    Lone Survivor on Film4

    Mark Wahlberg stars in exciting military action-drama Lone Survivor, playing for the first time on Film4.

  • Channel 4 Blog

    TIFF 2016: Top Ten

    Film4.com Editor Michael Leader runs through ten standouts from the Toronto International Film Festival...   The Oath I'd already seen three of the four Film4-backed films screening in Toronto (inc

  • Channel 4 Blog

    Baltasar Kormakur on The Oath

    As his Film4-backed Icelandic thriller The Oath premieres in Toronto, director/writer/actor Baltasar Kormakur speaks with Film4.com editor Michael Leader about making films in Hollywood, returning to

Register with Film4.com

Personalise your Film4 experience

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

or Register

Share