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Overall Rating

Awesome: 26.92%
Worth A Look34.62%
Average: 17.31%
Pretty Bad: 17.31%
Total Crap: 3.85%

4 reviews, 28 user ratings

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Two Brothers (2004)
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by Lybarger

"The animals upstage the people, and that's a good thing."
4 stars

French director Jean-Jacques Annaudís "Two Brothers" sometimes plays like a live action version of a Disney movie, where human beings are these mysterious creatures in the background, and the animals dominate the story.

Thankfully, Annaud doesnít use digital technology to make the animals talk or burst into Alan Menken songs. The tigers who star in this film prove to be photogenic and expressive enough to tug at viewersí hearts by pretty much being themselves.

The people, on the other hand, are broadly drawn or sometimes sketchy in this film, but thatís not really problem because this tale of two young tigers in early 20th century Southeast Asia doesnít need them much.

We get to follow Kumal and Sangha when they are cuddly little cubs under the watchful eyes of their parents. The family lives in the ruins of an ancient temple that the jungle is slowly reclaiming.

Their peaceful existence is shattered when a famous hunter named Aidan McRory (Guy Pearce) comes to the temple to swipe some of the statues. The parents donít take kindly to the trespassers, and one even dies defending a cub.

Each of the tiger siblings winds up being a captive. McRory sells Kumal to the cruel owners for a cut rate circus, and the local French administrator Normandin (Jean Claude Dreyfus) and his wife (Philippine Le Roy-Beaulieu) and son (Freddie Highmore) adopt Sangha as a pet. Unfortunately, the young tiger proves to be a lousy housecat (letís just say the homeís furnishings and the family dog could be a bit safer without him). Instead, he winds up being part of the egotistical local Princeís (Oahn Nguyen) menagerie.

The bonds between Kumal and Sangha reach beyond the bars of their cages, so that even when fate deals them a bad hand, they still manage to triumph. The story by Annaud and his regular writing partner Alain Godard ("Enemy at the Gates," "Quest for Fire"]) is pretty simple, but Annaudís attention to his feline protagonists makes their situations compelling. When one of them is isolated or in danger, the tigerís emotions become contagious. Even as big scary adults, Kumal and Sangha retain a sort of cuddly charm.

Apparently Annuad achieved these vivid animal performances, not by CGI trickery but sheer patience. Most of the movie was shot in High Definition video, which can usually hold more footage and give a filmmaker instant results.

While the picture sometimes looks grainier than most film photography, it enables the filmmaker to shoot as long as it takes for the unpredictable tigers to perform as intended. Thankfully, cinematographer Jean-Marie Dreujou, who also lensed Patrice Leconteís ravishingly beautiful "The Girl on the Bridge," can still manage to create stunningly opulent images.

While the film looks great, Annaud and Godard shortchange the human performers. Only Pearceís McRory seems remotely dynamic or three-dimensional. Normandin and the Prince are a bit stereotypical. To his credit, Annaud realizes the tigers are generally more interesting.

By nature, tigers can be scary creatures, so "Two Brothers" might not be for very young or sensitive children. Nonetheless, Annaud has crafted a classy and engaging film that doesnít subject viewers to product placement or needless scatological humor. Itís appalling that such a charming little flick didn't do better at the American box office. Annaud clearly loves the animals and the exotic world they inhabit, so itís easy to return the affection to his film.

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originally posted: 12/15/04 16:13:29
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Los Angeles Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

12/13/20 bored mom Awe-inspiring and cuddly all the same, the tigers' scenes make this movie worth watching. 5 stars
3/28/07 Amanda This movie made me bawllll my eyes out! it was so amazing! 5 stars
3/31/05 Nick Boyd The two tigers are cute and endearing but the human characters bog down the story 4 stars
3/29/05 Danny Not as good as "Born Free" but entertaining for anybody who likes big cats! 4 stars
10/19/04 Misty De Meo I must say that I disagree - the human elements weren't really the focus, and I adored it. 4 stars
9/27/04 Maggie I think this movie was great! i never stopped crying! 5 stars
9/23/04 maxine brillant 5 stars
9/08/04 efilmcritic is the Australian version of the site, A.J. Check for US release dates. Stephanie has a point; I like a bit more 3 stars
9/08/04 Stephanie Throckmorton I love tigers and good nature movies, but this is BOOOOORING!! 2 stars
8/14/04 A.J. Did anyone else realize that this page says that this movie wen't to theraters in Jan. 05? 5 stars
8/08/04 Charlotte Absolutely fab film, the tigers are so cute! Definitely worth seeing... 5 stars
8/04/04 ownerofdajoint don't waste your money.this movie does not know what it wants to be and therefore if fails 2 stars
7/30/04 Matt DeLuca Beautiful movie! 5 stars
7/25/04 nagarajan toot good film to watch 5 stars
7/22/04 Whitney Bullard I took my 3-year old, but I was the one who was riveted. Totally disagree with this review! 5 stars
7/21/04 nicki I cried the whole way through. I love animals and HATE greed. 5 stars
7/11/04 Varney Thought it was a great clean movie. hard to find 5 stars
7/08/04 Virginia & Scott We thoroughly enjoyed "Two Brothers". Had to see (saw & loved "The Bear). 4 stars
7/06/04 Carol Bad movie with a nice ending 2 stars
7/06/04 martha entertaining to a degree 4 stars
7/06/04 Peter Ryter I enjoyed this movie because of the tigers. I was there to enjoy these magnificent animals 5 stars
7/04/04 ron fitzpatrick watching the tiger cubs being brutally separated from their parents was way to painfull 1 stars
6/29/04 brit what ever 3 stars
6/29/04 Erica What movies are meant to be. Eemotionally engrossing and technically excellent 5 stars
6/28/04 Anna Jones Terrilbe - Took 7 year old daughter - we walked out - too much violence!! 1 stars
6/26/04 Thomas Pacheco Cat Movie big deal I guess the kids will like it 3 stars
6/23/04 Ray Beautiful 5 stars
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  25-Jun-2004 (PG)
  DVD: 21-Dec-2004



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