Director: Jim Sheridan
Writers: David Benioff, Susanne Bier
DVD and Blu-ray release date: June 7 2010
Studio: Lions Gate Home Entertainment
Number of discs: 1
Price: From £10.99
Running Time: 101 mins
Starring: Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, Mare Winningham, Sam Shepard
Irish Director Jim Sheridan has a history of tackling difficult and harrowing subjects with The Boxer, In America, In The Name of The Father and My Left Foot, Brothers is no exception. A re-make of a Swedish film, Brothers examines the impact of war on the family unit.
Sam Cahill is the apple of his father’s eye, Hank (Sam Shepard), after following in his military footsteps. Sam was the high school football star who married his cheerleading high school sweetheart. His brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), on the other hand, strayed, spending time in prison for armed robbery – something his father is ready to remind him of.
Called up for service in Afghanistan, Sam’s helicopter is shot down with some of the men jumping to relative safety. Sam is presumed dead and a funeral is held. As the months pass, Grace (Natalie Portman) and Tommy help each other through their grief, forming a bond. Hank’s constant criticism of Tommy subsides as he helps Grace with the house and is able to confront the woman he held a gun to, finally apologising to her.
Just as they are starting to rebuild their lives, Sam is found and everything changes. Severely traumatised and weighed down by the guilt of forced actions, Sam is no longer the man he once was.
Portman is outstanding as Grace, desperately trying to hold her family together but falling apart herself. She repeatedly rings Sam’s mobile just to hear his answer machine and paws over the letter he wrote for her to read after his death.
Toby Maguire sensitively plays model marine, Sam, mentally strong throughout his time as prisoner, rescuing a friend from the lake they crash into and spurring him on while in captivity. When Sam is given the choice to kill his friend or be killed himself, he becomes the shell of the man he once was. Returning to the family home, he no longer understands jokes, jumps when he hears a dog barking at night, nervously clutches a gun and tries to regain control of his life by obsessively re-arranging his kitchen.
The affects of his torture are wide-ranging – unable to connect with his wife as Tommy does, Sam is paranoid that they are “fucking”; his daughters prefer Tommy to him and are afraid of how unpredictable he has become, seen sobbing at the sight of their changed father.
Everything comes to a head at a family Birthday dinner – Sam must decide if he can share his experiences with his wife and try to live the life he fought so desperately to regain: “I have seen the end of war – the question is will I live again?”
Captivating convincing performances from the entire cast and exploration of a topical issue, make Brothers a thought-provoking watch.
- Feature Audio Commentary by Director Jim Sheridan
- “Remade in the USA: How Brodre Became Brothers”
- A story America Needed To See
- “Jim Sheridan: Film and Family” – The Unique Vision of Jim Sheridan