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During one intense early prison scene, Gyllenhaal jokingly reached into his pocket and took out a picture of his Brokeback beau to stick on the prison wall. "Like those prisoners put [loved ones] on the wall, but Jake's was Heath Ledger," one set source recalls. "That was hilarious. It was a nice moment." (this was before Ledger's death) See more »
In the beginning of the movie, little Maggie, tells her grandfather, Hank, that her birthday is "in the spring." Hank agrees with this, commenting that her birthday is March 10. However, March 10 is still winter. Winter ends March 21. See more »
a generally faithful remake of the Danish original
"Brothers" is an American remake of an excellent Danish drama from 2004. As the title suggests, the story centers on two male siblings who are essentially polar opposites of one another. Sam (Tobey Maguire) is an upright family man and lifelong Marine who has already served one tour in Afghanistan and is all set to embark on a second. Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is a ne'er-do-well ex-con who's released from prison on the very same week Sam is being re-deployed to the battlefield, leaving a wife (Natalie Portman) and two young daughters (the delightful Bailee Madison and Taylor Grace Geare) behind at home. When news comes that Sam has been killed in a helicopter crash, Tommy is there to help pick up the pieces, leading to some potential romantic complications between him and his brother's grieving widow, Grace. But that turns out to be only half the story, as anyone familiar with the Danish version already knows.
Written by David Benioff and directed by Jim Sheridan, "Brothers" follows the original fairly closely in terms of outline and incident, focusing on one man's attempts to turn his life around after making a mess of things, and another's efforts to come to terms with an action he performed under duress that his conscience will clearly never allow him to live with. The complex relationships among the three principal players - along with Sam's Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder - are dealt with in an adult and thoughtful fashion, with a minimum of melodrama and nary a hint of sensationalism. The conflicts are further exacerbated by the men's father (Sam Shepherd), a hardnosed Vietnam vet whose personal preference for Sam over Tommy has been evident to both boys from very early on in their lives.
"Brothers" reveals its European roots in its more deliberate pacing, its emotional complexity, its lack of judgment towards its characters, and its willingness to leave some loose ends hanging at the end. Maguire and Gyllenhaal are both excellent as the two torn brothers trying to stay close despite their differences - as are Portman, Shepherd and Mare Winningham as the boys' loving and conciliatory step mom whose calming influence over her husband goes a long way towards ameliorating some otherwise potentially volatile situations.
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