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Michael has everything under control: a successful military career, a beautiful wife and two daughters. His younger brother Jannik is a drifter, living on the edge of the law. When Michael is sent to Afghanistan on a UN mission the balance between the two brothers changes forever. Michael is missing in action - presumed dead - and Sarah is comforted by Jannik, who against all odds shows himself capable of taking responsibility for both himself and the family. It soon becomes clear that their feelings have developed beyond mutual sympathy. When Michael comes home, traumatized by being held prisoner in the mountains of Afghanistan, nothing is the same... Written by
A Danish Take on the Usual Post- War PTS Syndrome, Updated
"Brothers (Brødre)" is a Danish "Coming Home" crossed with "Deer Hunter" and the novels of Tim O'Brien with the added frisson of Cain vs. Abel, as updated to the war on terrorism in Afghanistan.
While I can understand how this is a new experience for Danes, it could have more impact for someone who has never seen a post-Viet Nam War movie. Otherwise it's like a fairly predictable cable TV movie about post traumatic stress syndrome on a channel that allows four letter words, including as has been done in British television films about returning peacekeepers from the Balkans.
The excellent acting rose above the stereotypes to make it very moving anyway, including very natural child actors who were very un-Dakota Fanning-like.
Nikolaj Lie Kaas is particularly charismatic on screen, even more than he was in "Reconstruction," and should now be in the international pantheon of rugged male stars who play "bad boys" really well, emphasized by portraying brunettes in the land of the blonds. So I give director/co-writer Susanne Bier extra credit for not fulfilling the most obvious direction of the plot, but instead letting tension hang in the air, which is more powerful.
Connie Nielsen, using her native language, has warm and charged chemistry with both her co-stars, but is pretty much just the beautiful wife/mother.
Unfortunately, the distributors didn't spring for American English subtitles so you have to interpret Brit slang as if you're watching BBC America. (I did learn in one instance that the F word sounds pretty much the same in Danish as in English but the subtitles didn't match that sound again so I was wondering what other curse words were being replaced with the fundamental English one.) Some times the translation is just plain confusing; for example, the word "assaulted" seems to have a different connotation than something in the Danish dialog, as a plot point gets confused for a subtitle reader. The translation is particularly a problem during a critical scene where the older girl has an outburst, as it's quizzical how scatological her terms were in Danish as opposed to the English choices to understand how incendiary the scene really is.
The Afghans are uniformly shown with the same level of subtlety as North Vietnamese, let alone Nazis, in prisoner-of-war movies. It is ironically interesting that English is now the lingua franca between freedom fighters everywhere.
The cinematography is beautifully color saturated, but is grainy; perhaps it's blown up from video.
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