Thursday, April 26, 2012

Brothers (2009) - Review

There are some movies out there that are watching just for the perfect casting.  Brothers is one of those films.  Had the casting been any less brilliant, the movie simply could not have worked.  And that mostly boils down to the story just not being that interesting, honestly.  However, the three leads completely carry the film and make it a worthwhile experience.

Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal play the eponymous brothers of the film and both do a splendid job.  The two not only look alike, but they have strong chemistry even though there aren't that many scenes of them together, actually.  The other shining star in this is Natalie Portman, who again gives a great performance.  The plot involves Sam played by Tobey seemingly KIA while in Afghanistan; meanwhile Tommy played by Jake attempts to comfort Sam's wife and kids.  The story seems sort of sleazy, but it ends up all rather tame and innocent, thankfully.

Where the story starts to fall apart a little is that it focuses too little on Tommy for much of the film, instead delving into Sam's psychosis and eventual breakdown.  Mind you, this only the last third of the movie, and Sam's unraveling feels like it escalates far too quickly.  In fact, that's sort of a problem throughout the whole movie; there is never a good sense of how much time has passed.  It doesn't hurt the film too much, but it definitely causes a disconnect that makes the ending less potent and believable as maybe it should be.

Overall though, it's far from a bad film.  The direction is mostly solid, tense where it needs to be, etc.  All of the emotions are in the right place, and all the actors (except for maybe the two little kids, but that's equal parts acting and writing) do a great job.  The thing that really drags the movie down is the pacing (not to mention the lack of resolve for Jake Gyllenhaal's character) but it isn't really a deal breaker, as the performances are strong regardless.

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