Movie Review: Sheridan bears ‘Brothers’ burden

5 Dec

December 5th, 2009–

 I’m not sure why Hollywood is still stuck in the trend of churning out near carbon-copies of foreign films, but I think it’s time to lay that tradition down. Sure, a few of them manage to establish themselves as individual work (Insomnia, Departed, The Fall) but mostly it seems like studios suspect that American audiences won’t accept something until its been transferred to their language with actors they recognize. The result is usually a watered down facsimile of the original.

 Such is the dilemma that Brothers finds itself in. A talented and appealing team has been assembled; Jim Sheridan (My Left Foot, In America) behind the camera, Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman in front of it. The film has been translated from a compelling and dramatically tense Danish work also called Brothers, directed by  Susanne Bier, who made her own jump to the U.S. with 2007’s poignant but raggy Things We Lost in the Fire. Sheridan, the fine Irish director who has long been bringing us powerhouse portraits of families in emotional or internal distress, uses his considerable skill and intuition to make this remake as effective and relevant as it possibly could be. His actors step up to the plate and he assembles the movie around them, letting them fill in the spaces the script has left empty.

What emerges is a satisfying story of social and emotional disconnection and an exploration of what happens in the aftermath of a family tragedy. The downside is that this Brothers is mostly just a faithful but muted version of that first film. If you saw and liked the original, there’s not much here for you save some excellent acting.

While both Maguire and Gylenhaal (who didnt already think these guys could be brothers?) do extremely fine work–Tobey in particular, handles the disintegrating and distant war veteran with a steady hand– it is Portman that shines most brightly. Never really called on previously to embody a character with so much turmoil and inner strength, Portman abandons the set of acting tics she has collected over a decade of quaint romantic comedies and makes her character new from the ground up.

For the whole review, go over to Atomic Popcorn and check it out:

19 Responses to “Movie Review: Sheridan bears ‘Brothers’ burden”

  1. xiphos0311 December 5, 2009 at 5:49 pm #

    Toby sporting an alpha uniform is cracking me up. Portman finally acts? Wow that’s something new.

  2. Bartleby December 5, 2009 at 5:51 pm #

    Xi, there you are…figured you had been nibbled to death in the Twilight thread.

  3. xiphos0311 December 5, 2009 at 5:54 pm #

    No not nibbled at all I crushed all opposition like they were the French.

  4. Bartleby December 5, 2009 at 6:02 pm #

    As for Portman, color me surprised. I haven’t seen anything during her career that suggested she could really pull off a performance that moved even slightly away from ‘Natalie Portman’. She’s always, more or less, just herself. Unless she’s in a Star Wars film, where she plays a cardboard cutout that looks like Natalie Portman.

  5. xiphos0311 December 5, 2009 at 6:10 pm #

    cardboard would have been more lively then Portman in Neck Wars.

    I think they had to hire Toby because he is the only person that Gyellen how ever you spell it could conceivably take in a fist fight.

    So let me guess returning vet with “issues” right? correct me if I’m wrong but Toby is sporting captain’s insignia in that picture above. What the hell has he got to have issues about he’s an officer?

  6. Bartleby December 5, 2009 at 6:11 pm #

    captured and tortured Xi.

  7. xiphos0311 December 5, 2009 at 6:15 pm #

    Kidnapped from where? captains are management they are rarely in positions where something like that could happen.

  8. The Lam December 5, 2009 at 7:15 pm #

    I’m hesitating whether to see this or not. I saw a clip of Tobey’s performance and it seemed pretty intense compared to his usual fare so it had my interest piqued for that at least. It might end up as an impulse watch anyways.

  9. lord bronco December 6, 2009 at 2:00 am #

    Remake-the original is on netflix. Whew!

  10. Eric Davidson December 6, 2009 at 2:03 am #

    Jake Gyllenhaal did a particularly awesome job in this movie, all in all i thought it was packed with quality acting

  11. lord bronco December 6, 2009 at 4:02 am #

    Xi-here’s my funny coming home story. I was yacking at a guy a couple years back who just got back from some deployment somewhere.

    I naively said at the time, “You should go camping!”

    You know, at the time, living in rural Oregon-I was thinking you should get away from it all, we have nice campgrounds-etc. etc…

    The guy stops dead, and says “WHAT DO YOU THINK I’VE BEEN DOING?!?”

    I had to admit, that was pretty dopey on my part. It’s all good, he wasn’t too pissed-ha ha.

  12. Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu December 6, 2009 at 7:22 am #

    Very good…Thanks for sharing…Thanks admin…
    Kurtlar Vadisi Pusu

  13. koutchboom December 8, 2009 at 12:08 pm #

    Funniest thing I read about someone who saw this.

    “After seeing Brothers, I don’t think I can still fully blame George for the terrible acting in the prequels.”

    Man Toobey Toobes can put on one hell of a mean face, he’s suppose to be a 5 year old in this right?

  14. koutchboom December 8, 2009 at 12:09 pm #

    I’m gonna be pissed if shit like this gets littered with Oscars. It probably will seeing that Jim is pretty buddy buddy with the Oscars. I wonder how long 50 Cent was on the short list for best actor?

  15. koutchboom December 8, 2009 at 1:17 pm #

    The Fall was a remake? Wow looking it up I guess it is. Of Yo ho ho? Is that movie just like the Fall? If so I want to see it. Man I thought The Fall was like Tarsem Singh’s own movie in every way. I almost wanna say that in the DVD he talked about how he’s been working on this story for forever. Well that sucks.

    Kind of like how 12 Monkeys is a remake/based off of something of sorts.

    • Bartleby December 8, 2009 at 1:22 pm #

      No, Yo Ho Ho is a bit different and not as good as the Fall. It isn’t the same kind of visually imaginative film. It’s really only borrowing the idea of a hospitalized strnager lying to a child to secure drugs. There are a few other elements, but thats the central one. Both a well done, but The Fall is superior.

  16. koutchboom December 8, 2009 at 1:20 pm #

    Also I don’t think The Fall…umm falls into the same remake category as Brothers and Insomnia. Unless Lee Pace is a lot bigger actor then I realize?

  17. Bartleby December 8, 2009 at 1:23 pm #

    No, it doesn’t. It’s alot better than either one of those.

    • koutchboom December 8, 2009 at 1:30 pm #

      Plus The Fall is some directors dream project that he funded himself.

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