Brothers 2009 Movie Scene Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy and Tobey Maguire as Sam sitting on a bench and talking

Brothers [2009]

War, war never changes. Although one could argue that the movie we’re going to be talking about today is not a war movie at all but more of a family drama. Brothers is a hauntingly realistic and thought-provoking movie about the oftentimes unseen consequences of war. It’s driven by excellent performances by both Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire. And if you need any further proof that Brothers is a movie worth watching, I’ll just say it also stars Clifton Collins Jr. And we all know the man simply cannot make a bad movie.

Brothers is actually a remake of the Danish psychological thriller Brødre. And behind that movie stand two Danish heavyweights Anders Thomas Jensen (In a Better World) and Susanne Bier (Open Hearts). We will be following two brothers, one is a loser who just got out of jail and the other one is a brave soldier about to be deployed. And I think you already can see where this is going. Especially if you’ve seen Pear Harbor. I don’t know what in the world made me watch this movie. Mostly because I usually skip anything that smells like an indie family drama about “emotions” and “difficult moral choices”. 

And relax, I’m just trying to lighten up things a bit to contrast the difficult subjects we will be exploring here. And I’m not just talking about PTSD disabling what little room for emotional control you had. I’m also talking about love and life. About the desire, we all have to live happy and full lives. However, there’s one theme that stuck with me and that’s injustice. Whether it be objective or subjectively perceived injustice it doesn’t really matter. What matters is how you react to it because there sure will be a lot of injustices in your life. That’s like a guarantee.

Sam Cahill is a soldier who just left for another tour of duty in Afghanistan. And once again he will leave his wife and children to serve his country in another country thousands of miles away. His father, an army veteran strongly supports his choice. Especially in the light of his other son, Tommy just being released from prison. Life goes on, for a while as usual, until something happens that changes everything. And then everyone will have to adjust to this new life. Until another change comes along, as it always happens in life.

The story switches back and forth between the life of the Cahill’s in the US and Sam doing his thing in Afghanistan. This type of storytelling offers welcome breaks from two difficult stories intertwined together into one powerful narrative. In retrospect, one of the reasons why I want to recommend you this movie is to deter you from glorifying the army. Or at least to take into full consideration what you’re giving up. For some, that won’t be difficult at all but for some, it will be devastating.

Considering that most of the war movies we talk about focus on the action, I think it’s only fair to have one that doesn’t. However lately we started seeing more balanced movies like The Hurt Locker. I think that this remake was a bit more melodramatic than it was intended. However, our two strong leads totally saved it. Tobey Maguire gave an incredibly powerful performance. I think it proves once and for all that he’s a great actor. Just look at the scene in the kitchen towards the end of the movie and you’ll see what I’m talking about. 

Director: Jim Sheridan

Writers: David Benioff, Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen

Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire, Clifton Collins Jr.Sam Shepard

Fun Stuff: Before the production started, Jake Gyllenhaal expressed his desire to play Sam which would’ve left Tobey Maguire playing Tommy. However, director Jim Sheridan didn’t like this idea and switched the roles. Something I think was a great decision.


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