The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2009
MPAA Rating: R
Feature running time: 105 minutes
Disc Format: BD-25
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio
Subtitles: English & Spanish
Starring: Tobey McGuire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman, Sam Sherpard, Mare Winningham, Clifton Collins Jr.
Directed by: Jim Sheridan
Music by: Thomas Newman
Written by: David Benioff
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: March 23, 2010
"There are two sides to every family"
A Marine about to embark on his fourth tour of duty, Sam (Maguire) is a steadfast family man married to his high school sweetheart, the aptly named Grace (Portman), with whom he has two young daughters. Tommy (Gyllenhaal), his charismatic younger brother, is a drifter just out of jail who's always gotten by on wit and charm. He slides easily into his role as family provocateur on his first night out of prison, which is also Sam's farewell dinner with their parents, Elsie (Winningham) and Hank Cahill (Shepard). When Sam's Blackhawk helicopter is shot down in the mountains of Afghanistan, the worst is presumed, leaving an enormous void in the family. Tommy steps in to fill the void with consequences that will shake the foundation of the entire family.
Sam (McGuire) was a star athlete in high school that married his cheerleader girlfriend, and followed in his Dad's footsteps by joining the Marine Corps where his sense of duty and competence elevate him to Captain, a role he excels in. In contrast, his brother Tommy (Gyllenhaal) was an angry, delinquent, partier type in high school whose latest escapade landed him a stretch in the local penitentiary. Despite their status within the family Tommy and Sam were close growing up and it would seem that Sam easily forgives Tommy shortcomings. It seems as though the family's stability revolves around Sam who does a balancing act between his wife Grace (Portman), their two daughters Isabelle (Madison), and Maggie (Geare), and his retired Marine father Hank (Shepard), stepmother Elsie (Winningham) and of course Tommy. Sam's relationship with his older daughter Isabelle is on thin ice due to her resentment over his frequent military deployments. He and Grace have a good marriage but it too suffers from his devotion being split between his family and career. Things come to a boil when bad brother Tommy is released from prison reentering the family fold and Sam announces he is headed off to Afghanistan for yet another tour. When Sam's Black Hawk helicopter is shot down he is presumed dead. This rocks the family. Tommy gets his act together and steps up to provide support to Grace and the children. He helps around the house and develops a close bond with the children that differed from the one they had with their father. Tommy and Grace also make a connection but before they can truly understand what that connection may be everyone is shocked by the news that Sam isn't dead and that he is returning home. Sam's return is bittersweet for Tommy as he must cope with his feelings. Sam returns suffering from traumatic events that unfolded while he was in enemy captivity. He carries a secret that torments him and threatens to dissolve the remnants of the stable and loving man that left only a few short months earlier.
Brothers is a melodramatic film that tells the compelling tale of how two brothers come to terms with issues of love, loyalty, and manhood with the love of a woman caught between them. This is only the surface of what this character driven film is about. It tells the age old story of a family divided where one son succeeds in pleasing his father while the other consistently provides heartbreak and disappointment. Sam's disappearance and subsequent return from the war sees a role reversal between himself and Tommy as everyone copes with the emotional rigors involved. This is a compelling film built upon a familiar premise that we have all seen before. What makes it a stand out is the depth of the performances by the primary cast, especially Tobey McGuire. His convincing portrayal of Sam's singular torment, anger, jealousy, and guilt is refreshing and in my opinion deserving of not only the Golden Globe nomination he received but Oscar worthy as well. It is based upon the Danish film Brodre and from what I understand changes the story slightly but maintains the primary elements. Director Jim Sheridan's superb pedigree speaks for itself and I think he demonstrates the encompassing aspects associated with this family's dysfunctional dynamic with visceral authenticity. Brothers is a stirring dramatic film that may not be as good as the original but makes for a strong genre entry that fans are sure to appreciate.
The rating is for language and some disturbing violent content including scenes of torture.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Brotherscomes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 20 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 channel Master Audio that has an average bitrate of 2.8 mbps.
Video quality was quite good and delivered images that were detailed and artifact free. Resolution was excellent as both people and objects were rendered with clear definition that at times was meticulously resolved. Long distant camera pans were smooth and appreciably dimensional. Blacks were stable and deep with excellent dynamic range. Contrast was well balanced and consistent so that colors and whites didn't appear overdriven. The color palette doesn't make use of bold or striking chromatic elements as red, yellow, orange and their variants are scant. It appeared as though filtering was applied to tame/subdue color saturation. That is more an observation than a complaint but it made the film appear less visually vibrant. Flesh tones were mildly affected by this and were a little on the pasty side but otherwise looked fine. The video had a clean pristine quality that when coupled with video high resolution looked great.
This isn't an encompassing soundtrack but the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio presentation made up for it with sparkling clarity and detail. Dialogue was impressive in its tonal distinction and transparent blend with the front three channels. Imaging and sound effects reproduction were first rate as the sound field in the front of the room bristled with sonic detail. The surrounds were primarily utilized for atmospheric presence however discernible discrete audio cues were effectively mixed in where appropriate. Dynamic range was excellent which provided good solidity and weight to the audio in general. Low frequency detail was sparse but effectively implemented during the sequences involving the events in Afghanistan. I felt that the mix highlighted the strengths of the source material and sounded quite good for a predominantly dialogue driven film.
- Audio commentary with director Jim Sheridan
- (HD) Remade in the USA: How Brodre became Brothers - 12 minute featurette
- (HD) Jim Sheridan: Film and family - 15 minute featurette
- (HD) Theatrical trailer
Brothers is a stirring dramatic portrait of a family left to assemble the pieces of fractured relationships after their number one son/husband/brother returns from the war in Afghanistan. It is a character film that deals with issues concerning love, loyalty, dysfunction, and post traumatic disorder. Tobey McGuire gives one of his strongest performances to date in this remake of the highly regarded Danish film Brodre. It comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate featuring excellent audio/video quality and bonus supplements that are worth checking out especially if you have an interest in the film's background and director. I enjoyed it and recommend that you throw it in your rental queue and take it for a spin.
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