DRAMA; 1hr 44min
STARRING: Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Tobey Maguire
Saving Grace: Gyllenhaal and Portman
Jake Gyllenhaal isn’t an obvious black-sheep choice, yet as resentful jailbird Tommy Cahill he’s a persuasive screw-up. Tommy’s Marine Corps elder brother, Sam (Maguire), on the other hand, is the hero of the family. And when Sam’s chopper is shot down in Afghanistan, his sweet wife, Grace (Portman), and his two little girls (Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare) mourn his loss. But Sam isn’t dead: he and another soldier (Patrick Flueger) are Taliban prisoners. Meanwhile, back home Tommy is stepping up to the plate for Grace and the girls.
The attraction that develops between Tommy and Grace is no surprise — especially if you’ve seen Danish director Susanne Bier’s 2004 film Brødre, from which this Jim Sheridan–directed version is adapted. Nor, alarmingly, is the toll that protracted torture takes on Sam, who returns home critically damaged. Tommy is now the sympathetic anchor while Sam, as bony as a baby bird, is unnerving in the too-still way that suggests explosive depths.
To its insightful credit, Brothers is less a film about war than the emotional battering which results from it, and the military families who fight unheralded battles.