Friday, May 23, 2014

Brothers Review

Brothers is a 2009 film directed by Jim Sheridan about Marine Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire), a man who seemingly has it all, sharing his life with a beautiful wife named Grace (Natalie Portman) and two little girls, but on a tour of duty in Afghanistan his helicopter crashes and he is presumed dead. Back home his loved ones experience horrific grief over the loss of Sam, and his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) steps in and assumes the paternal role in the family. As the wife and daughters he left behind begin to heal and appreciate moments of happiness again, Sam is found alive as a prisoner of war and returns home. Dealing with post traumatic stress disorder and the concept that he had been replaced by the women he loves most, Sam finds himself dealing with more turmoil and emotional chaos in the comfort of his home than he did while away at war.

Brothers is well made and the performances are the the focal point here, with all three leads and even the various supporting roles constantly on point, but something about the film as a whole just didn't add up for me. While the subject matter was deserving of such an atmosphere so it should have been expected, the mood of the film is constantly cold and unsatisfying, and even the moments that are trying to portray lighthearted happiness come off feeling sour and awkward. Despite this, the strangest thing about the work is that it pretty much maintains one tone the entire film and yet we still experience attempts at jarring tonal shifts during the first half, like we can feel Sheridan attempting to contrast the awful depravity of war with the happy go lucky lives of a family living free, yet it simply doesn't work. Sure, we see soldiers being tortured followed by a scene of Grace and her daughters with Tommy out for a fun day of ice skating, but the emotional bond being portrayed during the latter doesn't resonate. Instead of selling the idea that Tommy has fit into their lives in some ideal fashion, we get a sequence that tries too hard to make the sale and turning us off from buying it instead, as music plays to their fun filled day that is laughably optimistic to the point that it made me cringe.

In the end, Brothers isn't a bad film by any means. I just didn't care. I often embrace material that is so constantly dour as long as it makes me feel something in the process, but I couldn't have mustered up a single ounce of passion for what was being portrayed if I tried. Maguire gives a solid performance as a person struggling with mental health issues and I wanted so badly to give a shit about the outcome of his ordeal, but other films focused on this topic have done so in a far stronger fashion, crafting characters and relationships that make me care and hope for a positive outcome in the end. When the credits of Brothers began to roll, I shrugged my shoulders and moved on without giving it much thought.


No comments:

Post a Comment