The daughter of a brilliant but mentally disturbed mathematician, recently deceased, tries to come to grips with her possible inheritance: his insanity. Complicating matters are one of her father's ex-students who wants to search through his papers and her estranged sister who shows up to help settle his affairs.
Before leaving on his second tour in Afghanistan, Marine Captain Sam Cahill, a leader, an athlete, a good husband and father, welcomes his screw-up brother Tommy home from prison. He'd robbed a bank. In country, Sam's helicopter is shot down and all are presumed dead. Back home, while Sam wastes away as a prisoner in a remote encampment, Tommy tries to take care of the widow and her two children. While imprisoned, Sam experiences horrors unbearable, so when he's rescued and returns home, he's silent, detached, without affect, and he's convinced his wife and brother have slept together. Demons of war possess him; what will silence them? Written by
Originally, Jake Gyllenhaal wanted to play Sam and Tobey Maguire wanted to play Tommy, but director Jim Sheridan did not feel Maguire was convincing enough to play the "bad" brother, so they switched roles. See more »
In the beginning, dated in the movie as 10/7/2007, Sam says he's leaving "in 4 days" (10/11/07). Later, at the dinner table, he tells his brother he's leaving "Tuesday". 10/11/2007 was a Thursday. See more »
Just OK. Very well acted particularly by Gyllenhaal, Portman, and the two young 'uns, and a compelling tale of how war can mess up a family, but a little too melodramatic to hold much power for me.
There's also the misjudged Afghan side story, which is populated by cartoon characters. It might have worked better had we been kept completely in the dark as to the soldier's fate, to be put in the same position as the wife and brother. As it is we are simply sitting waiting for his inevitable (rather than hoped-for) return and we know any emotional investment during this buildup will be wasted. It feels almost tacked on - did they need to give Maguire more to do? He's the best I've ever seen him btw, but I didn't find him as convincing as the other two leads who had a more nuanced story to work with.
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