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Movie Review: Brothers

Alternate Title: The Human Toll

Story: Director Jim Sheridan and writer David Benioff do a terrific job of bringing Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen's 2004 Danish film 'Brodre' to American audiences.

Yes, it is another film drawn from the horrors of present day wars. The emphasis, however, is not on any particular political agenda but on the terrible toll that war brings to everyone both fighting the war over there and those left at home.

Sam is about to deploy to Afghanistan, leaving behind his adoring wife and two small daughters. His ne'er do well brother Tommy is getting out of prison and could have used Sam as a role model and helper in his transition back to society.When Sam's helicopter crashes he is pronounced dead by the military and the grief and nightmare strikes home. The family, including Tommy, slowly starts to put the pieces together of their new life - but Sam is not dead. He has been taken prisoner and undergoes nightmares we can not dare imagine.

His homecoming becomes fraught with problems because Sam is no longer the man is was when he left. He, in essence, died over there and the shell that remains is deeply scarred.

This is a film for grown ups who can deal with the consequences of the toll of war on the individual. It deals with highly emotional issues and tugs at your heart without being maudlin. Director Sheridan has a wonderful way of dealing with children and the strong performances throughout the cast make this a film well worth your time and consideration.

Watch the trailer here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJtEUfSAfOk

Here is the trailer from the original Danish film here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CkdnlLUt2MA

Acting: Tobey Maguire as Sam, gives a powerful performance. He is a long way from Spiderman. Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy, also delivers a fine performance. Natalie Portman as Grace, is believable and underplayed perfectly. Sam Shepard as Hank is a bit stereotypical. Young Bailee Madison as daughter Isabelle is sensational. Taylor Geare as little Maggie is adorable. Patrick Flueger as Private Joe Willis tugs at your heart. The supporting cast is fine all around, including Clifton Collins Jr. (Major Cavazos), Carey Mulligan (Cassie Willis), Omid Abtahi (Yusuf), Ethan Suplee (Sweeney) and Mare Winningham (Elsie Cahill).

Trivia: Director Jim Sheridan's In America (2002) was loosely based on his own family's struggles in the early 1980s in New York City. Jim Sheridan lived in NYC with his wife and children from 1981-1989, before moving back to Ireland to film, My Left Foot (1989). He has been nominated for six Oscars. His other films include, In the name of the Father, The Boxer and The Field.

Predilection: I like Jim Sheridan and I enjoyed the original film, Brodre.

Critters: Goats and horses

Food: Pancakes, meatloaf, peas, mashed potatoes, birthday cake, milk and pizza.

Sex Spectrum: Cuddling

Blatant Product Placement: Heinz Ketchup, Coca Cola

Soundtrack: A nice soundtrack including work by U2.

Opening Titles: We see Sam heading to the base to get ready to deploy and with his adoring children before the title. Al credits at the end.

Theater Audience: Two guys and me.

Weather: It is cold in Minnesota.

Sappy Factor: 0

Quirky Meter: 0

Squirm Scale: War makes me squirm.

Drift Factor: I was attentive throughout.

Predictability Level: I saw the original.

Tissue Usage: I welled up a few times.

Oscar Worthy: Hmm

Big Screen or Rental: I always say go for the big screen whenever possible.

Length: Under two hours.