Brothers (2009 film)

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Promotional film poster
Directed by Jim Sheridan
Produced by Michael DeLuca
Sigurjón Sighvatsson
Ryan Kavanaugh
Screenplay by David Benioff
Based on Brødre 
by Susanne Bier
and Anders Thomas Jensen
Starring Tobey Maguire
Jake Gyllenhaal
Natalie Portman
Sam Shepard
Clifton Collins, Jr.
Mare Winningham
Music by Thomas Newman
Cinematography Frederick Elmes
Edited by Jay Cassidy
Distributed by Lionsgate
Relativity Media
Release dates
  • December 4, 2009 (2009-12-04)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million[1]
Box office $43,318,349[1]

Brothers is a 2009 American psychological-remake thriller of the Danish romantic drama-thriller film based on Susanne Bier's 2004 Danish film Brødre, which takes place in Afghanistan and Denmark. The American version stars Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal and Natalie Portman and is directed by Jim Sheridan. Both films take inspiration from Homer's epic poem Odyssey.[2] 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 (Natalie Portman), and he has two young daughters, Isabelle and Maggie (Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare). Sam's brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) is being released from jail for an armed robbery, before Sam departs for Afghanistan in October, 2007. 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 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.

Sometime later, Sam is rescued. Once Sam returns home, he drifts through encounters in a cold, paranoid daze, showing signs of severe post-traumatic stress disorder. Refusing to explain to his family what happened while he was in Afghanistan, Sam also 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 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.



Box office[edit]

On its opening weekend, the film opened #3 with $9,527,848 behind New Moon and The Blind Side.[3] Since its box office debut the film has grossed $43,318,349 worldwide.[1]

Critical response[edit]

The film received positive reviews from film critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 63% 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."[4] On Metacritic the film has a rating of 58 out of 100 based on 30 reviews.[5] 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."[6] Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun Times, named the film as the Best Film of 2009.


Brothers received two Golden Globe Award 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.[7] 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."[8] Bailee Madison was nominated for a Broadcast Film Critics Association Award for Best Young Performer,[9] 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.

Home media[edit]

Brothers was released on DVD and Blu-ray on March 23, 2010.


  1. ^ a b c "Brothers (2009) Box Office". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2011-07-05. 
  2. ^ All Things Considered (2009-11-29). "Director Jim Sheridan On 'Brothers'". NPR. Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  3. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results for December 4–6, 2009". Box Office Mojo. 2009-12-14. Retrieved 2010-4-.  Check date values in: |accessdate= (help)4
  4. ^ "Brothers (2009)". Rotten Tomatoes. IGN Entertainment, Inc. Retrieved December 25, 2009. 
  5. ^ "Brothers (2009): Reviews". Metacritic. CNET Networks, Inc. Retrieved December 25, 2009. 
  6. ^ Roger Ebert. "Brothers". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  7. ^ posted by (2012-01-16). "Idris Elba – Luther – GOLDEN GLOBE AWARDS". Retrieved 2012-12-26. 
  8. ^ "Stars react to Golden Globe nominations". Yahoo! News. Associated Press. Retrieved 2009-12-15. [dead link]
  9. ^ "The Broadcast Film Critics Association Award :: 2009". Retrieved 2009. 

External links[edit]