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 »
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 »
Two brothers, one returning from prison, one heading as a Marine to Afghanistan.
This film is apparently a remake of a Danish film that had the same story line.
But it didn't have Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal! Maguire reaches into the darkest corners of his soul to flesh out the good brother, the Marine, who returns from Afghanistan with a staggering burden of guilt.
Gyllenhaal is amazing, transforming an angry, unsure ex-con into a believable figure of redemption, slowly growing before our eyes as the story unfolds.
Natalie Portman is excellent and look for Carey Mulligan's four minutes of screen time.
This is not an anti-war film except in the sense that any film that shows war either glorifies it unrealistically or jars us into questioning, if it is realistic. The scenes in Afghanistan seem authentic. The tortures are not so so graphic as some of the other reviews imply. They will cause you to wince, but its good film making, not microscopic detail.
I want to search out Susanne Bier's 2005 film "Broedre"--it can't lessen the impact of this one, however.
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