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Overall Rating
3.39

Awesome: 4.35%
Worth A Look60.87%
Average: 4.35%
Pretty Bad: 30.43%
Total Crap: 0%

3 reviews, 5 user ratings


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Brothers (2005)
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by Beth Gilligan

"Searing drama about the after-effects of war."
4 stars

Director Susanne Bier has an uncanny talent for conveying life’s unexpected moments. So often in movies we are taught to anticipate the oncoming of shattering events – music swells, startled looks are exchanged, the speed of the film changes, or a pivotal line is uttered. While these cues may be effective in building atmosphere in suspense film, in a drama they can seem overwrought. For a director and writer (Bier co-wrote the script with Anders Thomas Jensen) more preoccupied with the fallout from a traumatic incident than the incident itself, it seems only logical that such an episode should follow the same rhythms as daily life.

In Bier’s current feature, Brothers, and her previous one, the oddly-titled Open Hearts, change sweeps into the lead characters’ lives swiftly and without notice. In Open Hearts, it is the mere swinging open of a car door that triggers a sudden collision that will leave a young man paralyzed, while in Brothers, the downing of an army jet is preceded by a jovial exchange between the troops that never hints at the blast that will, within seconds, permanently silence all but one of them.

Though Open Hearts and Brothers share many thematic and visual similarities (though Open Hearts followed the strict guidelines of Dogme95), Brothers reaches further in scope, probing at one family’s inner turmoil as well as the psychological trauma inflicted by modern warfare. Although the film has been marketed in the States as a love triangle between two brothers, upstanding soldier and family man Michael (Ulrich Thomsen) and perpetually troubled ex-con Jannik (Nikolaj Lie Kaas), and Michael’s beautiful wife Sarah (Connie Nielsen), it is really the story of Michael’s struggle to re-integrate into society after witnessing the brutality that has become commonplace in the post-9/11 world.

While Michael and Jannik are initially coded as good and bad, respectively, Bier spends the rest of the film coloring in shades of grey. She presents a searing view of the inhumanity that war creates as well as a portrait of a society that is ill-equipped to address the after-effects on its soldiers. The movie’s effectiveness lies in how Bier is able to tie this broader message to a fully absorbing human drama.

Although the script is not without its contrived moments, the dedication of the actors and the starkness of the film’s visual style make the events that unfold seem so naturalistic that one is almost willing to overlook such things. As Michael battles his inner demons, the audience is forced to contemplate the frightening new landscape our wars have created.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=10464&reviewer=379
originally posted: 05/24/05 01:11:17
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Starz Denver Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2004 Toronto Film Festival. For more in the 2004 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sundance Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival. For more in the 2005 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Deep Focus Film Fest For more in the 2005 Deep Focus Film Fest series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Seattle Film Festival For more in the 2005 Seattle Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Sydney Film Festival For more in the 2005 Sydney Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/13/17 morris campbell potent drama about the effects of war 4 stars
12/28/05 Steven P completely unbelievable and poorly acted 2 stars
10/19/05 Carl A Fictional Movie is Proof? hmmm.... 3 stars
10/04/05 Elizabeth S Susanne Bier is a major talent! Powerful film, though "Open Hearts" is better. 4 stars
5/13/05 Lois Markle Proof that the war goes on even when the soldier returns home. 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  06-May-2005 (R)
  DVD: 20-Sep-2005

UK
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Australia
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