If you are going to see “Brothers” because you want to see a movie full of happiness around the holidays, you are looking in the wrong place. With that being said, the film is one which is full of actuality and truthfulness. The movie tells the story of more things that are going on in the world than we would like to believe sometimes. And the film is believable from beginning to end.
Capt. Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is family man who has returned home from war, only to see his family before he goes right back oversees. While he is home, his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is getting out of prison, and Sam is there to pick him up as soon as he gets out. When he returns home, one of his two daughters barely wants to talk to him – as she knows he will be gone soon. His wife Grace (Natalie Portman) doesn’t want him to go either, but she knows that it is his job. Sam inevitably leaves the family that he loves more than anything, and returns to his second home and family overseas to continue fighting.
Tommy doesn’t really do much of anything after he gets out of prison. We learn of his fathers discontent of the way his life has turned out, when the family has dinner before Sam’s departure. To his father, Tommy is the son that didn’t turn out like Sam. And even when he tries to be a better person, his father still compares him to his brother – where there is no comparison in his eyes. This leads him to spend most of his time drinking at bars, which is where he has driven home from when he drops off Sam’s truck to Grace which he has borrowed. He meets her at the door to tell her about a broken taillight, when Grace meets him with much more horrible news about his brother Sam. This is where we start to see the raw emotion of the characters in the film, and where we get into the depth of the story.
Much of the film focuses on the Cahill family, and dealing with loss. The performances from all of the actors in the film are exceptional, and convey on-screen exactly what you would imagine a family would go through under those circumstances. We follow the lives of Grace and Tommy, and their relationship while Sam is not their. Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman do an excellent job portraying the struggle that they endure, while Sam is the glue that keeps them together. Tobey Maguire gives his best performance ever in “Brothers,” and really makes you feel his pain. He truly gets into his character, and makes the audience believe that he has been through war. He becomes Sam Cahill.
In the end, “Brothers” is a very realistic story that might hit too close to home for some. If you have family in the military, be prepared to deal with issues that are very real. But the film is very well done, and well acted. It will certainly be in the running for many Oscar categories this year, and rightfully so.
Brothers is a B