Brother's Shadow (2006) Poster

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10/10
A wonderful, sensitive, well directed film
b_rel18 May 2006
I chose to watch this film at Tribeca based on Judd Hirsch and Scott Cohen and found it to be one of the best movies in the festival. Both leading actors deliver a well rounded sensitive performance that seems to match the characters on a personal level. The director did a great job bringing the characters and story to life with skill that is usually not seen in a first-time production.

One interesting aspect of this film is the love of woodwork and New York City (Brooklyn in specific). The movie revolves around the family furniture making business and weaves delicate cinematography of both carpentry and ordinary Brooklyn life – again kudos to the director on this fine choice.

This is gem and I would whole heartedly recommend it (I'm sure it will make it to the screen).
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9/10
Impressive Debut
krc-net18 May 2006
I understand this film to be a debut feature and as such, it is very impressive. It has the feel and pacing of a "true indie", yet director Todd Yellin clearly possesses the photographic and editorial vision, command and judgment of a mature and seasoned professional. The shots are well framed and thought out and serve to move the story forward. He, and screenwriter Ivan Solomon deliver a story that has much more depth and lyricism than typical "paint by numbers" type scripts. It's a story that needs Judd Hirsch caliber character talent to have a shot at working. Judd is fantastic as usual; as are Scott Cohen and the beautiful Susan Floyd. The real surprise though is Elliot Korte who plays Adam Groden. Yellin was able to coax nuance out of the young actor in a role that could have been easily devalued by stereotype or overreach. Anyway, I found the film refreshing and entertaining.
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9/10
A surviving twin nearly loses his identity in an effort to regain it
cindy-4710 May 2006
I found this movie thought-provoking, and its ambiguity refreshing in a world of quick-fix films where we are manipulated into loving the "good guy" and hating the "bad guy." Scott Cohen, a very handsome television actor, does a great job of portraying the family black sheep/lost child who aspires to gain his father's love and respect, as well as that of his widowed sister-in-law with whom he apparently has a history. Judd Hirsch plays against his usual good guy image as a father who triangulated his sons and now is left with the one he always rejected.

When I saw this at the Tribeca Film Festival, I was enchanted by the lovely way the sawdust was used to portray a family tradition, as explained by the director.

This is a fitting successor to the classic "Ordinary People." I just realized, Judd Hirsch was in that, too!
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9/10
A resonant drama from a rising talent
nicholas-11211 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
I saw "Brother's Shadow" at the Tribeca Film Festival and found myself still thinking about it two days later. The story of a prodigal son (Scott Cohen) returning to his family's custom furniture business after a stint in jail, it offers all the necessary qualities of a solid drama--memorable characters; sharp, observant dialog; sensitive use of the camera by a filmmaker who thinks visually.

But more than that, it presents something that is all too rare at the multiplex these days: the uncompromising vision of a mature sensibility. The talent of director-screenwriter Todd S. Yellin seems to emerge full-blown, but we get the sense he (like his protagonist) has paid his dues. He knows how real people struggle in this world, and he knows how we yearn to see--or at least, to experience vicariously--success. Yet Yellin respects his audience too much to blow happy smoke up our rear ends. In the end, we see that Jake's triumph doesn't lie in commissions, or even in the esteem of his family, but in "the work" he couldn't abandon if he tried.

It's an essential theme in a world (and especially a movie industry) that can't rise above "the bottom line". This film deserves a wide audience.
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7/10
...worth the time. ...leaves something to be desired, (as in you would like more), but inspires thought and introspection.
indri-116 May 2006
What percentage of movies does a person go to see these days that leave them wondering what happened to their eight to ten dollars? ANSWER: TOO MANY! This movie isn't like that. It is a story about real people that are sometimes a combination of both likable and unlikable.

Downside:

Not enough character development & some plot lines left twisting in the wind.

Upside:

Forces viewers to think about the choices they have made for good or bad in their own lives.

Well acted by: Scott Cohen, Judd Hirsch, Susan Floyd, Ato Essandoh and Elliot Korte.

Contains some good lighthearted humor.
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Go see it-- thought provoking, entertaining and incredibly well acted.
nycviewer10 May 2006
Warning: Spoilers
Saw this at Tribeca Film Festival. Was surprised to learn that was the director's first film-it feels like a more seasoned person was behind it.

While the major themes of the story may not be all that unique (outcast sibling returns for redemption in family) it was incredibly well acted. Scott Cohen who was the lead did a great job. I have not seen him do anything else like this role and he really pulled it off. Judd Hirsch was also great.

The story was interesting and left a lot of questions open that were worth discussing after the picture.

I agree with an earlier reviewer-there was Jewish thread going through it that I am not sure the purpose. Maybe because the writers are Jewish, maybe stuff was cut in the editing room, but not sure it enhanced the film.

All that said, it was a great film and I look forward to seeing more from this director/writing team.
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10/10
Thought Provoking Indie Drama
jessicalevin17 May 2006
I saw Brother's Shadow at the Tribeca Film Festival and loved it! Judd Hirsch and Scott Cohen are great as father and son. The film follows Scott Cohen from parole in Alaska back to his family in Brooklyn. He shows up there because his brother has died, and he embarks on a journey to slowly repair his estranged relationships with his brother's wife and child and his father who has never forgiven him for being the black sheep of the family. The story takes us deep into the hearts and minds of this family and allows you to more deeply understand the complexity of their lives. Also, the imagery of the woodworking business and the Brooklyn backdrop sets the tone for this rich and revealing family portrait.
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9/10
Brother's Shadow Character development
dweiner-218 May 2006
One of the things that interested me most about this film is the way the characters and their associated histories are developed on the fly. I suppose the writers wanted us to gain interest in the characters by not force feeding their characters. The premise of using the art and craft of furniture design and construction was a unique theme and/or analogy for what families/siblings go through in life. The complexity of having a twin serve as a surrogate father and even husband added great tension towards making this film emotionally interesting. Also, although the story was not one that the masses might directly relate to (i.e. Jewish/twins/family business) the themes are fairly universal as every family has a black sheep in it. That made it very engaging.
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10/10
Superior film, seducing writers
wheast29 May 2006
Kudos to the writers of this film for creating a supremely engaging drama. The curious character development is indicative of a nuanced and well schooled writing team. The audience member cannot but help but to feel that (s)he must make wrenching emotional decisions pitting the cerebral against the libidinal. The viewer has an opportunity to develop the character herself, though her predictions are rarely validated.

Credit is also due to the filmmakers for breathing life into the setting. The wood-shop is transformed into a unique persona as the film unfolds, with its own traits, faults, a variety of highly charged relationships, and of course a fate inexorably tied to that of the other principals.

Make sure to catch this one at your local art-house.
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Saw this film at Tribeca and was let down.
JustAnotherCritic_NY30 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
The film's main character, Jake Gordon, his family's alcoholic black sheep, is out on parole from jail. He is making an attempt turn his life around by gaining control of the family's struggling furniture business after the death of his identical twin brother. Unfortunately, because of his past, his father has forever barred him from the family's store, and his sister-in-law has trouble opening up to him. Eventually, Jake manages to gain some business for the family after a customer mistakes him for his brother. However, the order is difficult to fill, and Jake has lied about the potential of the business to come through with the merchandise.

The lost sibling angle gives the film, the expected "can I ever fill his shoes," angst one sees in any films dealing with one's loss of a more successful relative. It was unclear if I was supposed to feel sympathy, empathy or loathing for the characters (Jake Gordon, his sister-in law, father and nephew). This film would have been better if there were less moral ambiguity. Mild anti-Semitism permeates the entire work.

While Scott Cohen is not a bad actor, this role is so emotionally charged that any decent actor could have pulled it off successfully. In the end, this film has nothing original to say. The writers seem to be Arthur Miller wannabes but don't succeed. Where are Willy Loman and Biff now that we really need them?
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