Brothers (2009 film)
Promotional film poster
|Directed by||Jim Sheridan|
|Produced by||Michael DeLuca
|Screenplay by||David Benioff|
by Susanne Bier
and Anders Thomas Jensen
Clifton Collins, Jr.
|Music by||Thomas Newman|
|Editing by||Jay Cassidy|
|Studio||Michael De Luca Productions
|Running time||105 minutes|
Brothers is a 2009 American drama/thriller film starring Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman. Directed by Jim Sheridan, the film is based on Susanne Bier's 2004 Danish film Brødre which takes place in Afghanistan and Denmark. Both films take inspiration from Homer's epic poem The Odyssey. Tobey Maguire received a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama for his performance.
Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is a Marine captain about to embark on his fourth tour of duty, He is a steadfast family man married to his high school sweetheart, Grace Cahill (Natalie Portman), and he has two young daughters, Isabelle and Maggie (Bailee Madison, Taylor Grace Geare). His brother Tommy Cahill (Jake Gyllenhaal) is being released from jail for an armed robbery, before Sam departs for Afghanistan in October, 2007.
Soon news comes that Sam's helicopter has crashed over the water, killing all of the Marines aboard. In reality, he and a hometown friend, Private Joe Willis (Patrick Flueger), have been taken prisoner in a mountain village. With Sam gone, Tommy attempts to redeem himself in the eyes of his family by wrangling old friends to help with kitchen repairs for Grace and the kids. Grace slowly sheds her previous resentment towards her brother-in-law.
As months pass, Grace and Tommy bond over their mutual mourning, culminating in a passionate fireside kiss. They regret it afterward, and do not take this attraction any further, though Tommy continues to win the favor of his nieces. Meanwhile, Sam and Joe are abused and tortured by their captors, forced to make videotaped dismissals of the military and their mission, though only Joe cracks. The captors eventually deem him useless and force Sam, at gunpoint, to beat Joe to death with a lead pipe.( which the attack was shown off- screen and it was unknown to what happened to his body afterwards)He does so and reacts angrily. Sometime later, Sam is rescued.
Once Sam returns home. He drifts through encounters in a cold, paranoid daze, showing signs of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), refusing to explain to his family what happened while he was in Afghanistan, and lies to Joe's widow that he does not know how Joe died. He also believes Tommy and Grace had a sexual relationship in his absence. During Maggie's birthday party, a resentful and jealous Isabelle claims that Sam's paranoid assumptions are true: that Tommy and Grace slept together. Sam becomes enraged, destroying the newly remodeled kitchen with a crow bar and pulling a pistol on Tommy who arrives and tries to calm his brother's violent breakdown. The police arrive, and after a frantic confrontation in which Sam holds the gun up against his head and nearly commits suicide, he reluctantly surrenders after a frantic plea from Tommy and Grace.
Sam is admitted to a mental hospital. Grace visits him and tells him that if he does not tell her what is tormenting him, he will lose her forever. Faced with this decision, Sam finally opens up about the source of his pain, confiding in her that he killed Joe and they embrace. A letter between husband and wife is read aloud, with Sam wondering if he will be able to continue living a normal life.
The movie Brothers accurately depicts PTSD in soldiers. PTSD falls under the much broader category of anxiety disorders. As defined by the DSM-IV-TR, PTSD is a cluster of symptoms caused by an individual either having experienced, or been witness to, an event that threatened injury or death. It results from the experience of extreme stressors, such as physical or sexual abuse, a natural disaster, or sudden loss. The traumatic event, which must be seen or experienced firsthand, has to involve actual or threatened death or injury, and the response must be one of intense fear, horror, or helplessness. The symptoms for the disorder are required to emerge a month after the incident. Though certain specific criteria must be met, the diagnosis requires three kinds of symptoms: repeated re-experiencing of the event, avoidance of stimuli and emotional numbing, and hyper vigilance and chronic arousal. Those who develop PTSD generally become detached and a have very limited range of affect, or the observable expression of emotion. Though Sam’s symptoms are mainly paranoia and chronic arousal, it is important to note that those aren’t the only signs of PTSD.
Though the movie does not portray treatment for PTSD, it is currently treated through cognitive behavioral therapy which has three goals for the patient. The first is exposure to the fear or the cause of the individual's anxiety. Once the person is exposed and experiences very little negative reaction, the negative thoughts are challenged and analyzed. With this greater understanding, there is hopefully a reduction of stress. The process of systematic desensitization, or the repeated exposure and decreasing arousal, helps identify the thoughts that create anxiety. Stress management interventions are also helpful to learn coping mechanisms. In terms of biological treatments, selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors(SSRIs) are sometimes prescribed to reduce anxiety. However, for progress to be made, the drug must be in conjunction with therapy.
Due to the extreme stress of war, soldiers face a high severity of trauma over an extended period of time. It has been proven through over thirty years that the brutality of a traumatic incident can highly impact and determine the development of PTSD. In terms of this movie, Sam experiences the events of war but his PTSD is triggered specifically by his exposure to torture. Sam is forced to kill his close friend, and he carries that act with him. Killing is a dominant factor and predictor of PTSD when looking at a variety of combat triggers because it both reflects the extreme exposure of war and the threat of the enemy. Experiences such as combat missions and patrols, activities related to killing or its aftermath, and hostile fire were common amongst soldiers who developed PTSD. Though soldiers are taught to kill, it could be considered an unnatural human action. As beings of high intellect and consciousness, humans are unused to acting so violently. Killing is inhumane; it goes directly against humanity's moral code and ethics. This regression to basic, survival instincts while necessary in the moment of war, can cause more severe PTSD in retrospect. Sam’s incident was that much worse because of his torture and guilt over his friend’s death.
The impact of this disorder can be seen in Sam’s family. His family expects their caring husband and father to return. Instead, a detached and paranoid man comes back from war. Their shock and their struggle to reconcile who Sam once was to who he has become is best exemplified in his inability to relate to his two little girls. He finds their jokes silly and can’t play along like he used to. He also becomes so fixated on his wife’s and brother’s infidelity that he begins to push both of them away. Fortunately, his family cares enough about him and supports him enough to stick by his side. In the climactic ending, as Sam threatens to kill himself, it is only his brother who can talk him down. That familial bond is a lifeline for returning soldiers.
This support system, as shown by Sam’s family, is a crucial factor in preventing PTSD. Soldiers need to feel loved and cared for despite their detachment towards others. The movie does a wonderful job of negating the stereotype that soldiers are too strong and courageous to be affected by war. Sam’s own father says that he will “get over it.” However, this disorder cannot just be overcome by sheer will. It requires support and often professional help. The stigma of military personnel never displaying weakness needs to be abolished. There is no weakness in reacting to the stress of war.
- Tobey Maguire as Capt. Sam Cahill
- Jake Gyllenhaal as Tommy Cahill
- Natalie Portman as Grace Cahill
- Mare Winningham as Elsie Cahill
- Bailee Madison as Isabelle Cahill
- Sam Shepard as Hank Cahill
- Clifton Collins, Jr. as Maj. Cavazos
- Taylor Geare as Maggie Cahill
- Patrick Flueger as Pvt. Joe Willis
- Carey Mulligan as Cassie Willis
- Jenny Wade as Tina
- Omid Abtahi as Yusuf
- Ethan Suplee as Sweeney
- Ray Prewitt as Owen
- Navid Negahban as Murad
The film received mixed reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 61% of 148 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.2 out of 10. The site's consensus is that "It plays more like a traditional melodrama than the Susanne Bier film that inspired it, but Jim Sheridan's Brothers benefits from rock-solid performances by its three leads." On Metacritic the film has a rating of 58 out of 100 based on 30 reviews. Maguire in particular received critical acclaim for his dramatic performance. Roger Ebert said that Brothers is "Tobey Maguire's film to dominate, and I've never seen these dark depths in him before." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times, named the film as the Best Film of 2009.
Brothers received two Golden Globe nominations: Tobey Maguire was nominated for Best Performance by an Actor and the U2 song "Winter" was nominated for Best Original Song in a Motion Picture. Of the nomination, Tobey Maguire said "I had no expectation about getting a nomination, but I was watching nonetheless. My wife and my son got really excited. I was sort of surprised — I was like, 'Oh, wow.' And I couldn't hear the latter part of my name." The Edge of U2 described how the band planned to celebrate the nomination. "I think we might have a pint of Guinness and eat a potato in honor of (director) Jim (Sheridan) and his great piece of work." Bailee Madison was nominated for a BFCA Critics' Choice Award for Best Young Actress, and was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Younger Actor. Jim Sheridan won an Irish Film and Television Award for Best Director for Film. Natalie Portman was nominated for a Chicago Film Critics Association Awards for Best Supporting Actress and was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actress. Tobey Maguire was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Actor. The film was nominated for a Saturn Award for Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film. Maguire, Gyllenhaal and Portman were nominated for the Vits Awards for "Best Performance", which Maguire won.
Brothers was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010.
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- Official website
- Brothers at the Internet Movie Database
- Brothers at allmovie
- Brothers at Rotten Tomatoes
- Brothers at Metacritic
- Brothers at Box Office Mojo