Brothers Jim Sheridan

Brothers Jim Sheridan
In addition to the feature-length commentary track with director Jim Sheridan, the Brothers DVD includes a brief supplement comparing this remake with the original Danish version directed by Susanne Bier. While mostly complementary, as it is essentially a series of interview clips with actors and filmmakers, they address the main distinction between the movies, which is that of gender perspective. The bare bones plot is the same, with Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) suffering as a prisoner of war while his wife Grace (Natalie Portman) believes him dead, seeking comfort from his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal). But where the original pivoted on male competition and woman as property, the remake is a psychologically simpler ordeal from a distinctly male point of view. This isn't a bad thing at all, as each film has its merits and weaknesses, given Bier's affinity for excess close-ups and piecemeal editing, and Sheridan's more fluid, cinematic approach. The most interesting factor in this fraternal tale of unanswerable questions is the mirroring of Sam's deterioration against Tommy's maturation and focus. Before Sam goes to war, Tommy is little more than an alcoholic criminal, refusing his lot in life. That is, until his brother is believed dead and he sees a void to fill, no longer being a disappointment in the shadow of a better man, stepping into the role of father and lover. The assertion is that of an inferior identity in relation to lifelong comparisons, giving the obvious title Brothers some added depth, acknowledging the bond, but not shying away from the more difficult associations of peer measurement and social expectations. Much ado was made over Tobey Maguire's intense performance and dramatic weight loss for the film, which is indeed the most obvious transformation of the movie, but where the subtlety and heart come from is in Portman and Gyllenhaal's quiet portrayal of two broken people helping each other find a way to continue in the face of immense grief. (Alliance)