Two Brothers

Two Brothers

Genre: Action/Adventure, Drama; Starring: Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, David Gant, Freddie Highmore, Moussa Maaskri; Director: Jean-Jacques Annaud; Author: Jean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard; Release Date Wide: 06/25/2004; Runtime (in minutes): 105; MPAA Rating: PG; Distributor: Universal

Jean-Jacques Annaud, the nature-smitten French director of the superb 1989 ursine paean ”The Bear,” returns to the wild with Two Brothers; the siblings in this musky live-action jungle story are real tiger cubs, distinct of character. One’s bold, the other isn’t, and when they’re separated by fate and the no-good caprices of man, we wait, rooting for the moment in tiger adulthood when the pair are bound to meet again.

That we do root – that Annaud and his deft production team create believable dramatic characters without compromising the dignity of the animals they’ve borrowed as stars – is the striking (and sometimes unnerving) achievement of a film that also swoops and loops through fairytale hoops. The setting is an exotic Southeast Asian land of beautifully ruined temples and benignly foolish hunters and colonialists (filmed in Cambodia and Thailand); the time is semi-long ago, when white men still kicked back with phonographs in their tents; and the accented speeches of the human players are succulent, none more so than that of Guy Pearce in the admonitory role of a hunter who puts down his rifle when born again as a wildlife conservationist – as Annaud means us all to be.

Originally posted June 17 2004 — 12:00 AM EDT

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