Brothers

***½

Swift shot:  Emotional, superb acting and believable performances that will haunt you – sometimes the best horror films aren’t horrors at all.  Sometimes survival is its own hell.  To my brothers in harm’s way, know that you can always rely on the truth – Semper Fidelis.

Took me a long time to finally watch this one, it sat on my desk . . . daring me to open the oddly fastened Netflix sleeve for a whole week.  I was afraid it would be yet another pandering Hollywood sneer at our forward operating troops deployed in combat zones.  It’s hard to pin down if this was an out and out criticism of our efforts overseas, or if it was just a matter-of-fact – War is truly horrible – message film.

Certain elements in the film brought me back to an abandoned rail-station in Albania, where we were debriefing prisoners of the Kosovo conflict and I was reminded of soulless eyes, shells of men, broken hearts and minds – desperate to embrace normalcy. To endure all manner of torture, you must have something to live for, some “other” that keeps you moving when the easiest thing is to just shut down and die.

I have often wondered about those souls, the “survivors” what were their lives like after the war?  Were they able to embrace that normalcy again?  Were their minds so twisted that even the slightest nuance of happiness was robbed from them?  Do they sleep?

This film brought the war home, but the sadness and hostility were underground, buried in some chasm of moral apnea.  Watching Captain Cahill interact with his family before “breaking” and afterward was expertly portrayed by the dedicated Tobey Maguire.  For his dedication to the role, I applaud him; at no time did he disappoint.

Brothers will have you struggling to fathom your own mortality.  Choices we make to survive remind us we are all gonna end up in the dirt.  It is what we live for outside of ourselves that dares us to stand up to death and say with baneful conviction, “Fuck you, death, not today!”

While the juxtaposed sequences danced back and forth between the war and the family, the overall transitions were somehow diluted and less powerful than the rest of the film.  Perhaps some stronger scoring was in order, but overall the film intellectually was stimulating.  The acting, as mentioned earlier, was precise – even the youngest actors were amazing – well disciplined (if you will permit a little jarhead inside joke).

It isn’t easy to talk about the wars, it isn’t something that should be taken lightly.  War is hell; Brothers does a decent job exploring this theme, but it doesn’t have enough balance to be a really incredible film.


2 Responses to “Brothers”

  1. Doug Says:

    Great review! Yea i had issues with the balance of "Tobey in the war" and "Jake and Portman" scenes. I almost wish they had just done the whole war part together, linearly, instead of cutting back and forth. But I did, overall, really like this movie.

  2. RickSwift Says:

    Exactly what I was thinking, I know they were trying to portray to "real-time" effect, showing events happening in Afghanistan and Minnesota at the same time – but, it didn't come across seamlessly. Usually directors use better devices to make that work, like I suggested, better music, a dramatic POP or something, dunno. And, yea, the war stuff was far too short, and it could have been its own film – but, really, that wasn't what the director was steering us towards. Also, this is actually a Dansk film, gotta catch that one now . . .