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A young man comforts his older brother's wife and children after he goes missing in Afghanistan.



(screenplay), (motion picture "Brødre") | 1 more credit »
2,111 ( 425)
Nominated for 2 Golden Globes. Another 3 wins & 13 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Private Joe Willis (as Patrick Flueger)
Cassie Willis


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


There are two sides to every family


Drama | Thriller | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

4 December 2009 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Hermanos  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$26,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$9,527,848 (USA) (4 December 2009)


$28,501,651 (USA) (15 January 2010)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


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 »


When Tommy is reading the local newspaper reporting the retrieval of PFC Willis' body from Afghanistan, the first line of the article refers to the "United States Marine Corp". The correct spelling is Corps. See more »


Maggie Cahill: Hey! No drinking out of the carton. It's gross.
Tommy Cahill: Shut up. You're gross.
See more »


Referenced in Funny People (2009) See more »


Empty Sky
Music by BC Smith and Simon Wilcox
Performed by Simon Wilcox
Published by BC Smith Music (BMI) / Hypnotizing Boogie Publishing/EMI April Music (ASCAP)
Used by permission of EMI April Music Inc.
Courtesy of Gigamix Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

a triumph of acting over story
10 December 2009 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Brothers is something we may have seen before - if not in its original incarnation from Denmark in 2004 then The Deer Hunter - then it is something that surprises just on the vulnerability, subtlety and ferocity of the actors in their roles. It's not about what the trailer pushes, which is an affair between a guy (Jake Gyllenhaal) and his sister in law (Natalie Portman) while the one guy's brother (Tobey Maguire) is away at war. There is one scene of that, but that's not really what the film is 'about' per-say. It's about the personal affects of war on one man, a horrific tragedy that befalls him, and how he has to live with that the rest of his life, specifically in front of his wife and children. Maguire's Sam says it simply towards the end: "Only the dead see the end of war. I have seen the end of War. How do I go on living?"

If I may have spoiled the message of the movie- and in its own microcosm way it's as anti-war (or perhaps just anti-torture) as it could get in modern movies- it shouldn't detract from the pleasures of Brothers. This is seeing the actors- Portman, Gyllenhaal, Sam Shephard, especially Maguire- fill in these characters with enough depth and passions and fears and desires and ghosts that make them more than real to us. That's not just their achievement but director Jim Sheridan's. He lets his players breathe life into characters who, while not wooden or two-dimensional by any stretch, need that extra push as seen in David Benioff's characterizations and scenarios. Family life, its fragility and it's equal amount of love and self-torment, is what counts (again, Deer Hunter), and it's this that works in the film.

A word though about Tobey Maguire. I'm not the only critic pointing him out, and it goes without saying he's not the only worthwhile actor in the cast (there's even performances by the girls playing Sam's kids that are extraordinary). But it's the transformation that really counts. Perhaps it's noteworthy that both brothers do transform in the film, as Tommy, the ex-con, goes from being a drunken nobody to stepping up to help his brother's barely-holding-it-together wife after the news that her husband is dead, while Sam is in the downward spiral. It's crucial too that Sheridan shows those scenes in Afghanistan that cause Sam to change so radically as he does (the way they're inter-cut in the at-home narrative is a little uneasy, one of the flaws of the film), so that we see a good person shrunk down to his deepest, darkest depths.

When that last third comes around, it's electrifying how intense Maguire can get, even when he's just in his insinuating mode ala Jake LaMotta of accusing his brother of adultery. For anyone just looking at Maguire as Spider-Man's Peter Parker must give this a look to see his range; indeed a double feature of Brothers and Seabiscuit will show how Maguire is one of the most underrated actors under forty in Hollywood. If the role calls for it, as it does here, he goes to town, a you-can't-blame-him Oscar bait performance.

45 of 57 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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