What she said:


I remember when this movie came out in theaters there was a lot of buzz.  Three talented young actors in Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Natalie Portman, teaming up to show the emotional perils of war on both soldiers and their families.  What we get out of this film is a compelling melodrama that is pretty good, but which also seems to take itself too seriously at times. 

One thing that really bugged me about it is the foundation from which the entire thing is built—the fact that Tobey Maguire’s helicopter is shot down in Afghanistan, and he is presumed dead.  I just don’t buy that the government would tell his family that he’s dead if they find no physical evidence from his body.  I always went with the assumption that they would call him M.I.A., and wait to declare him deceased until they have a body or even DNA.  Anyhow, the government tell his wife and family that he’s dead, and so they bury an empty casket, and begin to rebuild their lives.

The most interesting moments of the film depict the emotional trauma that Tobey Maguire must live with once he’s rescued and returns to his family, who has seemingly moved on.  He has a difficult time dealing with the torture he’s endured and the things that he’s done to survive (no spoilers). 

Like I said, some parts of the movie seem overdone.  As a whole, I did enjoy this flick, though, and so I will recommend it as a rent. 

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

What he said:


As my partner-in-crime mentions, there was a bit of a buzz about this when Brothers came out. Three young, but heavyweight caliber actors, teamed up for this film about war (which is never an easy topic) and its effects on both the soldiers involved and their families. Then, suddenly it just kind of disappeared. The buzz never really played out and I think I know why.

Go watch the trailer for this movie. It seems like it is a thriller, but (without giving too much away) I’ll say it doesn’t play out exactly like the marketing pieces would lead you to believe. Bottom line is I think they marketed this movie incorrectly.

The pace is also a lot different than you might expect. It is a lot of build up and that may turn a few people of. But if you are patient, you will see a worthwhile drama that tackles some tough issues.

The acting was absolutely fantastic. All three of the big three were every bit as good as their resume suggests (Bubble Boy aside). I don’t have a single complaint about any of them.

But the real hidden gem in this movie is a young lady Bailee Madison, who plays Sam and Grace’s eldest daughter, Isabelle. It’s not uncommon to see a child actor who is not very good, so they are often judged on a different level. But when you see a good one, such as this one, you really appreciate it. I believed every moment this girl was on screen.

I also thought Sam Shepard was fantastic as the not-so-supportive, struggling with his own issues, jerk of a father. I really hated that guy and that means the actor did his job.

Some of the (fairly obvious imo) issues with military protocol aside, I felt this was a good movie.

Rating: Thumbs up.

This movie was written for your reading pleasure on September 27, 2010.