DVD | Blu-ray
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman
Lionsgate Home Entertainment
Release Date: March 23, 2010
Detached in genre but alike in context, director Jim Sheridan‘s new film Brothers, a remake of the 2004 Danish film titled Brodre, ironically provokes emotions that ran rampant in his 2003 masterpiece In America. In that film an outsider is welcomed into an Irish-American family and in return he forever changes whatever their prior perspective on life was. Most of Mr. Sheridan’s films show an intense interest with man’s ability to detach himself from the parade of inabilities, setbacks, and tragedies that universally correspond with the orders of humanity. The roadblocks that face most of his characters are appropriate given their specificity in life. How Daniel Day-Lewis’ character in My Left Foot or Djimon Hounsou’s character in In America are able to unshackle themselves from their imprisonment to nature is what makes Sheridan’s films rigid and universally true: Man has a desire to deliberately shun away all the perplexities that nature is bound to, paving a path that can eventually lead to some form of freedom.
In Brothers a man has been emotionally scarred and alienated by the natural causes of war, and has thus been incapable of communicating properly with his wife (Natalie Portman), two children and his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal). The painfully confounded Marine is played despairingly by Tobey McGuire, with tinges of maddening energy that you won’t soon forget. His Capt. Sam Cahill, due to his long absence from his family and other major incidences, has become a victim of war, one that has felt the tumult of battle and has been forever changed for the worse. Once he was presumed missing, which is symbolic because Sam’s soul is never truly found. War’s naturalistic elements have proved to make Sam incredulous, paranoid, and extremely vindictive. Emotionally his parting from Afghanistan, where he had been stationed, could have been a great thing but in reality the changing of scenarios creates an imprisonment for him. Since his departure to war Sam has become a memory, an outsider to his family, forever changing their perspective of him and of life.
This juxtaposition of two different worlds (domesticity and warfare) is potentially gripping because Sheridan can attempt to acquaint the audience with a war film that has a prominent conscious function on all levels instead of just one. The one level that effectively obstructs any deeper level the film shows potential of displaying is the level that an amateur director would fall in love with — the low base level of cheap melodrama. Affairs are occurring behind characters’ backs; fathers show favoritism to one son and distaste toward the other; a climactic scene that bases itself on how loud one can scream and how much another can cry. Brothers shows conviction for domestic issues that entail individuals who arrive back home from warfare. Reminiscent of such classic films as Coming Home (1978), Deer Hunter (1979), and last year’s The Hurt Locker. Brothers initial conviction is usurped by melodrama and struggles to stay afloat despite the overwhelming emotions that pervade the film.
Sheridan hurdles desperately into a forced predicament or an outlandish situation that is most comforting to him. And that is the subject dealing with loss, loneliness, and misunderstanding. Quickly as possible Sheridan lurches us into his world, where at times it is laden with harsh realities and shattering melodramatic moments. Intent on bringing home the anguishes and effects war has on a certain family, “˜Brothers is obsessively preoccupied with making our emotions splintered and making our tear ducts work overtime.
DVD Bonus Features
– Feature Audio Commentary: Director Jim Sheridan offers an insightful commentary when he discusses distinguishes and influences found in Brodre, the 2004 Danish film in which Sheridan’s film is based on.
– Remade in the USA (13 mins): Don’t feel like listening through Sheridan’s commentary? Then throw on this feature, which is a quick and concise response that discusses the influences Brodre had on Sheridan’s film. Also, this feature highlights classic war films such as Coming Home and The Best Years of our Lives.
– Jim Sheridan: Film and Family (16 mins): Sheridan discloses to us his family relations and how they helped structure all of his films.
Movie: **1/2 out of ****
Special Features: **1/2 out of ****