Peter Parker’s married to Luke Skywalker’s mom. She finds out that he died and she finds solace in the arms of his brother, Donnie Darko. Or, a much less geeky synopsis, Toby Maguire plays decorated Marine, Captain Sam Cahill. His helicopter is shot down during his 4th tour of duty in Afghanistan. Sam’s wife, Grace (Natalie Portman), and their two daughters face living life without him. Sam’s younger, drifter brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), fresh out of prison, tries to renew his self-image by caring for his lost brother’s family. The trauma of the loss gives Grace and Tommy common ground that was never there before.
Just as Grace and Tommy experience a spark of reluctant relational fire, Sam returns home unexpectedly. He’s was rescued from a Taliban prison, but not before experiencing dehumanizing psychological damage. What should be a glorious return for a military hero, proves to be much more complicated.
The trailer for this film was a little over-informative and slightly misleading, which is pretty hard to do. Not knowing much history on the film, I thought it was more of a “Daddy’s home!” type thriller that picks up where Castaway left off. I was wrong. It plays much more dramatic and cerebral than that.
Brothers is adapted from a 2004 Denmark film, Brødre, starring Gladiator beauty, Connie Nielsen. At a slight risk of giving away too much, the story is more about the effects of war, á la Deer Hunter, than it is about the awkward relationship between Grace, Tommy and resurrected Sam. Whatever it’s about, the main story here is the performances of the young dynamic cast. Toby Maguire’s eccentricity comes to full light amid the lovely emotional range of Natalie Portman. Jake Gyllenhaal defies his good guy image as a believable societal deadbeat in need of redemption. Even the minor roles are memorable in this movie. Sam Shepard (The Right Stuff, Steel Magnolias) plays the Cahill brothers’ former Marine, self-medicating father. He stirs the tension between the polar opposite personalities of Sam and Tommy.
I really enjoyed this film, although, my hot date of a wife felt irreconcilably let down by the story. Brothers, in the pantheon of brother movies, is much better than the swift kick in our collective crotch that was Step Brothers. So I give Brothers a 3.5 of out 5 babbles.