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
Carey Mulligan mentioned in an interview at the Sundance Festival that she got the role after sending an audition tape to America; when they shot her scenes, it was at about 3.00am, and it was largely improvised (something she enjoyed). She called it a "trial by fire". See more »
The movie gives the location of the Marine Base as "Fort Mahlus". Only the US Army begins their bases with "Fort" (i.e. Fort Benning, Fort Bragg, etc). The US Marines begin their bases with "Camp" (i.e. Camp Pendleton, Camp Lejeune, etc). See more »
Happy Birthday to You
Written by Patty S. Hill (as Patty Hill) and Mildred J. Hill (as Mildred Hill)
Published by Summy-Birchard Company (ASCAP)
By Arrangement with Warner Chappell Music See more »
A remake of the Danish film Brodre, what this version boasts is the star presence of Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular brothers Sam and Tommy Cahill, with Natalie Portman starring as the former's wife Grace, in what would be some powerful dramatic performances delivered by all three actors in a story that deals with the pain of loss, the exhilaration of purpose, love and family, and the confusion that comes when jealousy starts to creep in a relationship no thanks to the presence of another man in one's home.
Tobey Maguire plays Captain Sam Cahill, who is bidding his family of wife Grace and kids Isabelle (Bailee Madison) and Maggie (Taylor Geare) farewell before he ships out for his tour of duty in Afghanistan. A well respected Marine, he's actually looking forward to this return to the war zone (talk about that addiction to war last seen in The Hurt Locker) to fulfil his belief in the fight for freedom to keep America safe, and is the pride of his parents Hank (Sam Shepard) and Elsie (Mare Winningham) as compared to his good for nothing brother Tommy who's just released from prison, and bumming around to find what he could do when he's out in society.
Then comes the tragic news that Sam's Blackhawk helicopter went crashing down into a river, and the devastation that event had on the surviving family members. This of course provided director Jim Sheridan to cover some pseudo-Afghanistan war scenes and making some statements about the war on terror, but also allowed for Portman and Shepard to showcase their acting chops, in particular Portman as you can feel that level of pain with the sudden cutting short of a young person's life, and of course the reverse when excellent, unbelievable news came her way.
Brothers is an excellent character study piece which both Maguire and Gyllenhaal fleshed out their roles in stark contrast toward each other and the drawing of parallels in their characters as the film progressed. One's calm and collected, but affected by recent experiences in guilt and blame to finally explode in "Bale Out" style, while the other's laissez-faire approach to life suddenly found some purpose when he subconsciously took it upon himself to look after his brother's family, so much so that it borders extremely close to that of being a surrogate husband and substitute father figure, yet endearing himself to the family as he grows into a better, likable person. It is this constant, tense "will he or won't he" questioning that will keep you engaged in the film, and then again with the pivotal turning point that will introduce elements of jealousy and needless suspicion into a relationship.
There are plenty of memorable scenes in this film, which I thought made it stand out amongst the crowd. One involves all the principal characters gathering over the dinner table in conversation, and the dynamics of everything, and I mean everything, was magic, from how the scene was shot, edited and especially down to the roles that the kids play, with kids Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare almost always stealing the thunder from the veteran actors with their antics.
Granted that the assumption of death and how it screws up a relationship is nothing new (heck, even Michael Bay found time to squeeze it into his action packed Pearl Harbor), it boiled down to the excellent performances all round to deliver an emotionally powerful film. You'll feel that intense fury and worry when the film hits its crescendo, and for that alone it's worth the price of an admission ticket. Highly recommended!
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