Brothers Brothers , a drama centered around the war in Afghanistan, is based on a 2004 Danish film, but it could just about be a remake… Brothers Brothers , a drama centered around the war in Afghanistan, is based on a 2004 Danish film, but it could just about be a remake… 2009-12-04 R PT110M Drama War Jake Gyllenhaal Tobey Maguire Natalie Portman Clifton Collins Jr. Sam Shepard
Movie Review

Brothers (2009)

MPAA Rating: R
Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, ... | A SOLDIER'S STORY Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman on the homefront in Brothers
Image credit: Lorey Sebastian
A SOLDIER'S STORY Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman on the homefront in Brothers
EW's GRADE
C+

Details Release Date: Dec 04, 2009; Rated: R; Length: 110 Minutes; Genres: Drama, War; With: Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman

Brothers, a drama centered around the war in Afghanistan, is based on a 2004 Danish film, but it could just about be a remake of the aftermath-of-Vietnam soaper Coming Home (1978). In this case, though, there's no saintly paraplegic, and the more the love-triangle drama tries for power, the more it strains. Tobey Maguire, newly buff and buzz-cut severe, is Sam Cahill, who returns to Afghanistan for a fourth tour — and is presumed dead when the chopper he's in gets shot down. In fact, he has been made a prisoner of the Taliban, who have devised unique ways to break down his defenses (I won't reveal their methods).

Natalie Portman is Sam's devoted wife, Grace, and Jake Gyllenhaal is his disaffected ex-con brother, who starts hanging around Grace and her kids to comfort them. His loving impulses ultimately cross a line of propriety, though not nearly as greatly as Sam imagines after he returns home: an unlikely survivor who now has the outlook (and pallor) of the walking dead. Brothers isn't badly acted, but as directed by the increasingly impersonal Jim Sheridan (In America), it's lumbering and heavy-handed, a film that piles on overwrought dramatic twists until it begins to creak under the weight of its presumed significance. C+

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Originally posted Dec 02, 2009 Published in issue #1079-1080 Dec 11, 2009 Order article reprints