Saturday, April 3, 2010

Brothers: Review

I've always liked Natalie Portman, so I knew I had to see Brothers, even though the subject wasn't really one I was interested in watching. One of my big pet peeves with movies is when a movie is marketed as one genre, but really falls into another, or usually not into one at all. The previews for Brothers made it seem like Natalie and Tobey Maguire were married, he went off to war, is presumed dead and she takes up with his brother, ne'erdowell Jake Gyllenhaal. While the basics of that summary are true, the movie is mostly two different stories that intersect toward the end: one following Maguire as he suffers being a POW and then suffers the trauma again when he returns and a second story following a widow trying to come to terms with the loss of her husband and raising her girls alone, but with the help of her good friend and former brother-in-law. About halfway through the movie I was thinking, "wow, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal have absolutely no chemistry, this is going to make it hard to believe they fall in love like the previews suggest". However, their relationship was perfectly constructed, platonic love, fraternal, friendly, and nothing more. The previews make it look like they fell in love because the first story line needs to intersect theirs when Maguire returns home, and the filmmakers chose paranoia about his wife and brother getting it on as his form of coping/PTSD symptom. Until the two story lines are forced to interact, the movie is really good. Maguire is a crazed victim of his captors and can't cope with what they forced him to do and the constant torture (short glimpses of this or the movie wouldn't be tolerable) and we see him fall apart during his captivity from a strong marine to a broken man. In the other story we see Portman and Gyllenhaal lean on each other to cope with the loss, rebuilding their lives and helping the little girls deal with life moving on. The ending seems overly constructed and overly dramatic to allow all the characters to be really emotional, but actually loses the dramatic push the movie was building up to throughout. Good, but not great movie. I'm not sure how they should have marketed the film to make it seem more like a soldier's survival story rather than a love-triangle gone wrong, but it would have been easier to have enjoyed the movie without the incorrect preconceptions I had from the previews. 2 of 5 stars/lambs


Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with you more. That trailer screwed up the whole movie for a lot of people, which really is a shame.

Tom said...

I agree that it would make a difference if you thought this was a love triangle gone wrong movie. I guess I'd heard the NPR review of it (always way more reliable than the movie trailer) and hadn't seen the preview, so I had a better understanding of what it was going to be going into it. Julia hated it and I thought it was okay. She didn't think it was realistic at all and that it glorified war. I thought it was pretty good and that it told the story of how difficult even a "successful" trip to war (one in which the soldier comes back alive) can be to cope with.