Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA, 2009. Lionsgate, Relativity Media, Sighvatsson Films, Michael De Luca Productions. Screenplay by David Benioff, based on the motion picture Brodre by Susanne Bier, Anders Thomas Jensen. Cinematography by Frederick Elmes. Produced by Michael De Luca, Ryan Kavanaugh, Sigurjon Sighvatsson. Music by Thomas Newman. Production Design by Tony Fanning. Costume Design by Durinda Wood. Film Editing by Jay Cassidy.
Remake of the Danish film by Susanne Bier is hampered by a dull script and painfully inappropriate casting. Siblings Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire are complete opposites in ways that do not harm their relationship but seem to be a problem for those around them. Soldier Maguire is studious and responsible while local troublemaker Gyllenhaal is unreliable, which makes their father (Sam Shepard) so much more resentful when Maguire is shipped back to Afghanistan, goes missing and the family is left with the less admirable brother.
Eventually, however, Maguire’s wife (Natalie Portman), believing herself a widow, needs support, and her brother-in-law steps in to fill the void; just imagine the terrible complications that ensue when her husband is returned safe and sound, his death having been a misunderstanding.
Everyone means well here, but having actors like Gyllenhaal and Portman play small town trash is simply insulting to our intelligence: they reek of privilege and their Hollywood childhoods never for a minute pull off a lower station (he can’t even convince you of his drinking), making the film unbearably silly to watch and never for an instant moving or effective.
Golden Globe Award Nominations: Best Actor-Drama (Tobey Maguire); Best Original Song (“Winter”)