Ron Rosenbaum, Writer

January 25, 2010

Brothers Deserves the Oscar More Than…

Filed under: Uncategorized — ronrosenbaumwriter @ 6:30 am

Hurt Locker. The latter turns the Iraq conflict into Hollywood thriller cliche. Brothers returns a kind of agonized humanity to what was becoming a propaganda genre.

I just don’t understand why Brothers has been over-shadowed. Was it because people were tired of over-politicized war films and thought this was one?

Brothers is a brilliantly written and acted story of the cost of war that neither denigrates nor mythicizes the soldiers fighting it. It’s directed by Jim Sheridan, who won an Oscar for My Left Foot and has now made the film of a lifetime. It was written by David Benioff, who also wrote another amazing underrated film 25th Hour, based on his novel of that name, and directed by Spike Lee — his best — back in 2002. The guy can write.

Without getting into specifics — this is one movie whose plot you can’t summarize without ruining it — let’s just say it’s about two brothers: one who goes to Afghanistan (Tobey Maguire) and his other brother (Jake Gyllenhaal), the bad boy who stays behind and tries to take care of his brother’s wife. Based on a 2004 Danish film, there’s something primal, almost Biblical about it.

It’s a film that captures the unimaginable pain of separation that soldiers and their spouses go through, the horror they’re subjected to, and the PTSD that haunts them when they come home.

Yes, there are spectacular plot twists and you can’t forget that Natalie Portman (as the wife) is Natalie Portman (in a good way). But more than anything, it’s so intensely human and true it’s almost unbearable (in a good way).

Don’t miss it; it’s utterly riveting. Although I’ve already suggested Christian McKay of Me and Orson Welles for an Oscar, I can’t imagine Tobey Maguire not getting a nomination and wouldn’t feel bad at all if he wins, as the film itself should.

You can spend a billion dollars on special 3-D effects and never glimpse the dimensions of the human heart one can find in this film.



  1. The Boys Who Cried Fascism!

    Thanks for this review. Maguire looked good, and, barring a script from George Lucas, Natalie Portman is always enjoyable. But the previews and the presence of Jake Gyllenhal (sp?) kept me away from it, since he seems to ride every leftist hobby horse out there.

    I’ll reconsider.

    Comment by Amos — January 25, 2010 @ 11:39 pm | Reply

  2. Jake Gyllenhaal? You mean the guy who starred in “Jarhead” and “Rendition”?

    He’s in the same muck as George Clooney and Susan Sarandon.

    Comment by gus3 — January 26, 2010 @ 12:17 am | Reply

  3. Here’s why Natalie Portman turned vegan! Check out this informative and inspiring video.

    Comment by JC — January 26, 2010 @ 6:17 am | Reply

  4. I will NOT go see any movie about war made by leftist Hollywood. And this is why ALL those movies tend to be tanking now. People in Hollywood tend not to see a fundamental truth that the great unwashed masses who buy tickets know: sometimes WAR is necessary.

    Comment by Never for Obama — January 26, 2010 @ 7:56 am | Reply

  5. The greatest film ever made about war: Shame by Ingmar Bergman

    Perhaps the second: Come and See, an Russian film set in Belarus under German occupation.

    Comment by MonkeyShines — January 26, 2010 @ 8:35 am | Reply

  6. Ugh, “Hurt Locker”, flaws and all, rules; can’t understand why Ron panders to the left on Islamofascism, when in his heart, he is on (and in) the right

    Comment by charlie finch — January 26, 2010 @ 9:22 am | Reply

  7. I don’t know, Ron…

    …I have this creeping suspicion that your rec’ on this film will be about as effective as BHO’s efforts on behalf of ‘Marsha’ Coakley of Massachusett[e]s (or wherever she’s planning to relocate to).

    Comment by goy — January 26, 2010 @ 10:38 am | Reply

  8. can’t ever trust someone’s artistic taste when they think Portman being Portman is a good thing. It is a terrible thing. does Ron really believe her for a second? she has no nuance and may be the least subtle actress I have ever seen. this performance was not a shade different than Closer which was not much different than everything wlse I’ve seen her in.
    One has to believe that seeing a female cry on screen equals good acting to appreciate the likes of Portman.
    That being said, Brothers was better than expected, but Maguire is no Renner and the film is not in the same league as Hurt Locker.
    As with his review of Me and Orson Welles, Ron shows his absolute rejection of well paced, tight story and successful directing. don’t know what could be going through a man’s head when watching these 2 films and coming out saying that they were the best of 2009… they are not. trust me.
    Sheridan is a zero without Day-Lewis backing him up.

    Comment by bryan — January 26, 2010 @ 10:40 am | Reply

  9. Here’s what I want to know, Ron. Dmitri Nabokov publishes VN’s final notes for a novel, in complete contravention of his father’s explicit, written directive and wishes and you have nothing to say? Why not write about something you actually know about? I am deeply distressed by DN’s unconscionable publication of something VN expressly said he never wished to have published. No one knows the exact date of one’s death (OK, someone on Death Row knows, until the commutation, or someone planning his/her own suicide probably knows) but VN didn’t, and he unwisely (as it now turns out) trusted his only child and literary executor to follow his wishes and not his own whims or the begging of VN’s readers. The duty of a literary executor is to carry out the wishes, if explicitly made, of the decedent. DN failed in his first duty. Have you no thoughts, Mr. Rosenbaum? Has Dmitri Nabokov no shame? Apparently not to the second question. I await your response to the first.

    Comment by Robert Rogers — January 26, 2010 @ 11:29 am | Reply

  10. I want to apologize for characterizing Ron as being insufficiently hawkish, it’s just that after watching Napping Napolitano, Lightweight Leiter and Bleary Blair doing there “three monkeys” routine before the Senate Homeland (hate that Commie term) Security Committee, to quote John Lee Hooker, “I get Mad” Sorry, Ron!!

    Comment by charlie finch — January 26, 2010 @ 12:17 pm | Reply

  11. Spoiler warning:

    Dunno why I’ll go along with the spoiler warning crud on this one but just in case it matters to someone …

    Brothers … lessee the GI comes back and is IAW the Vietnam mantra messed up in the head, the “badboy” does the “Jody” routine and makes off w/ the vet’s wife … did I really miss something? Brother’s makes it to file 13 on those grounds alone … I’ll check into Blackfive and co as to whether the Hurtlocker is worth viewing

    Comment by Tim O — January 26, 2010 @ 2:02 pm | Reply

  12. “Was it because people were tired of over-politicized war films and thought this was one?”

    Bingo! Honestly, I haven’t watched Hurt Locker or Brothers and have no plans to. I’m sorry, but it just reaches a point where after so much drivel that I won’t even give a film a chance.

    I consider that bridge burned.

    Comment by Scot Graham — January 26, 2010 @ 2:12 pm | Reply

  13. I deplore he left position of “oppose the war, but pity the troops”, because it is condescending and elitist. Its main purpose is to reaffirm the detached self-regard of liberals. I have been anti-war and distrustful of the military all my life. In the 70s I worked hard to unionize the Army and still support that position. I believe that a contrarian, civil liberties oriented Army would be far more effective than the command system we have now. However, having survived 9/11 up close, I feel that I was conscripted on that day, and that I earned my stripes as a soldier on that terrible day and continue to be, as so many American civilians are, a soldier in the war against Islam (and I agree with the incomparable and dearly missed Orianna Fallaci that the Islamic community by tolerating terrorism has necessitated a war against Islam until Islam becomes “a religion of peace” by force, if necessary). Where are the memorials to the victims, over a half century, of Fatah, Black September, Hezbollah, Hamas, Al Qaeda, Al Qaeda in Yemen, Wahhabism, the Baathists, the mullahs of Teheran, Saddam, the Taliban, a hydra headed army of hate that would make Hitler drool with envy?

    Comment by charlie finch — January 26, 2010 @ 2:26 pm | Reply

  14. You can’t ruin “BROTHERS” plot, because the studio’s trailer/advertising openly reveals the “twist.”

    I saw the trailer in a full theater. People – okay, women – were totally into it. A brave soldier is lost, a young woman is left alone with his child, the brave soldier’s screw-up brother steps in to help her, they fall in love…

    Then the plot twist comes in. Then the seventies cliches appear. Then a certain actor starts chewing scenery and aping Robert DeNiro. I could feel the energy drain from the audience and no tickets were sold that day.

    Comment by Jenn M. — January 26, 2010 @ 7:15 pm | Reply

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