One brother, recently released from prison, befriends his brother's wife, while the latter is believed dead in Afghanistan.
We watch no film in a vacuum. The films we've seen in the past inevitably affect how we view new films. In this case, I couldn't help but compare the original Danish version of this story to the American remake starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire, and Natalie Portman. All three American actors have turned in good, sometimes great, performances in other work, but I found the American version staid and uninteresting.
Now, I compare that to this film. The performances by Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Ulrich Thomsen, and Connie Nielsen are far and away better. Even on the most superficial level, Kaas looks like a fuck-up brother while Thomsen's maturity and political commitment resonate his every move. The final climactic moments hold more suspense and engender more fear because Thomsen's emotional decay is a more extreme inner torment and his physical stature is more demanding than anything that Tobey Maguire could inspire.
There are almost no differences in the stories, but the way the original is told, by actors who are truly right for their parts rather than Hollywood stars trying to fit into unwilling molds, makes Brothers compelling drama.
As much as I liked this film, especially in comparison to its flaccid American cousin, the story is still littered with "must-happens," in Super Reviewer Alice Shen's words.
Overall, Brothers proves that a clone is never as good as the original.