Brothers Review: The War At Home
Don’t say you’re sick of war movies until you’ve seen Jim Sheridan’s Brothers.
It doesn’t spend too much time shoving violence down your throat but instead focuses it’s energy painting a portrait of the families left behind.
When Sam (Tobey Maguire), a Captain in the marines is missing and thought to be dead, his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) must try to carry on. After just being released from prison, Sam’s younger brother Tommy, played by Jake Gyllenhaal, tries to reconnect with his family and forms a special bond with Sam’s wife and kids.
After months of adjusting to life without Sam, he returns having been tortured by Al Qaeda. But having moved on, how will his family react?
It was great to see Tobey Maguire finally graduate from Spiderman, this is the kind of work he’s been capable of since he was a teenager. Maguire’s Sam evolves from a mild mannered soldier to a shell of a man who’s paranoia and temper push his family to the limit.
In an all too obvious attempt to age the youthful looking Portman, she’s laden down in baggy clothes and frumpy cardigans which can’t hide the fact that maybe she still looks too young to be in motherly roles. Although Grace’s connection to the girls playing her daughters, Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare, is charming and brings a much needed warmth to the story.
Gyllenhaal, who can’t seem to stay away from war movies, relishes in the role of Tommy who makes the opposite switch to Sam – going from ex-con to reliable family man. He also gets to display his wonderful comic timing, as Tommy is just the breath of fresh air that Grace and her girls needed.
Unfortunately the sexual tension that’s hinted at between Grace and Tommy isn’t that satisfying and at points it feels like whole chunks of the script are missing. But the film really picks itself up when Sam returns, giving Madison a chance to impress as the distraught daughter who doesn’t think that having her father back is such a good thing.
Overall the film seemed to think it had more to say than it actually did, but there were interesting performances all round. It might have big name stars but it has an indie vibe to it that gives the movie heart and a fresh perspective.