Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brothers: A Review

I only go to the movies maybe once a year. So this review of Brothers with Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal will probably be my one and only movie review of 2009.

Warning: SPOILERS AHEAD!

The movie shows a scarily typical American family that is leading a completely vapid, senseless, emotionless existence. Their food, their clothes, their pastimes are drab and boring. They are incapable of any real, profound human emotion or any thought that rises above the purely mundane. The only ways men in this family of sad, uneducated people can make a living are becoming a criminal or going into the military. When Sam, the responsible family man, is declared dead in action in Afghanistan, his widow Grace is kind of sad but not a whole lot. Sam's wayward brother Tommy starts hanging around, and Grace lets him occupy Sam's position in her life. She doesn't seem to care much one way or the other which one of the brothers repairs her kitchen,  plays with her daughters and engages in romantic interludes with her. Then Sam unexpectedly comes back, which is also kind of OK with the utterly vapid Grace, played convincingly by Natalie Portman, whose total lack of personality in real life suits this role perfectly.

Sam, who has gone through hell in Afghanistan, feels that he cannot learn to reinscribe himself into this world of interchangeable, wives, husbands, children, siblings, and friends. Everybody expects him to suck it up and resume the kind of existence he led before his horrible war experiences. However, Sam actually grew some personality during his captivity and torture. He is incapable of understanding this empty kind of life any more, let alone actually living it

The powerful and painful message of this movie is that some people can only be shaken out of the stupor they live in by something as horrible as what Sam goes through in Afghanistan. At the end of the film, Sam goes into a psychiatric facility. Apparently, he will have to undergo therapy in order to be cured of his newly found humanity. Then, he can attempt to join the world of robots represented by his family members.

9 comments:

Vera said...

"sad, uneducated people can make a living are becoming a criminal or going into the military."

So the people fighting for our country are just doing it because they're sad and uneducated. Not because college costs a retarded amount of money that they're putting their lives at risk to earn.
"Natalie Portman, whose total lack of personality in real life suits this role perfectly"

Oh have you met her?

Clarissa said...

I am talking about these particular movie characters, so pleasse get off your soapbox already. This movie character wasn't trying to make money to go to college.

If you haven't seen the movie, why are you trying to discuss it?

SittingPat said...

Wow! I'd say you hated it...and it was your once a year film too. I could have recommended much better. And the performances didn't do it for you either, huh?

Clarissa said...

No, I actually liked it quite a bit. :-) Tobey Maguire's performance was very powerful. The othe characters were, indeed, vapid, but that was in keeping with the storyline.

Eric Davidson said...

Brothers is easily the most moving film I have seen in months, amazing performances all around; I left the movie feeling 'wowed'

Joy-Mari Cloete said...

The powerful and painful message of this movie is that some people can only be shaken out of the stupor they live in by something as horrible as what Sam goes through in Afghanistan.

Sounds like war propaganda to me.

Anonymous said...

Joy-Mari, sounds like current events. People come back from war changed. Some better. Some worse. All changed.

It'd be odder to not make movies about war than to make them. Not all movies about war are war propaganda, just as not all movies about dictators are dictator propaganda.

Subtle distinctions get lost in ideology. When I detect ideology erasing thought, I wish to leave more profane comments. But I am less combative than I used to be (get it?).

-Mike

Val said...

Well, I have a hard time stomaching Natalie Portman, so this one I'll probably sit out...
Appreciate the heads-up!

Anonymous said...

It's sad fact about war that the soldiers who go away to fight often come back traumatized. Come on, you wouldn't be traumatized if you witnessed the slaughter of entire villages of women and children? War is no picnic. And the fact that we have a soldier in this film suffering from PTSD is far from propaganda--it's insight.
But this movie, while it attempts to make a statement about the devastation of war, is just another anti-war film. It's a film about family tragedy.