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Brothers (2009)



Average Rating: 6.2/10
Reviews Counted: 150
Fresh: 94 | Rotten: 56

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.


Average Rating: 5.6/10
Critic Reviews: 42
Fresh: 16 | Rotten: 26

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.



liked it
Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 193,302

My Rating

Movie Info

Jim Sheridan's film, adapted from Susanne Bier's 2004 movie, concerns Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire), a Marine who receives orders to ship out for yet another tour of duty in Afghanistan. But before he leaves his supportive wife, Grace (Natalie Portman), and his two elementary-school-age daughters, Sam picks up his black sheep brother, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), who has finished a prison stretch for robbing a bank. While overseas, Sam's aircraft gets shot down and he's thought dead. Back home,



David Benioff

Mar 23, 2010


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All Critics (151) | Top Critics (42) | Fresh (94) | Rotten (56) | DVD (8)

It takes two-thirds of the film for any scene of real emotional truth or power to emerge - and by then we're lost.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Time Out | Comments (3)
Time Out
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A soap opera ensues with more clichés than one movie can survive.

December 8, 2009 Full Review Source: New York Observer | Comments (4)
New York Observer
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Brothers, the new home-from-the-war film, written by David Benioff and directed by Jim Sheridan, has been made with obvious devotion and sincerity, and I wish I could take it seriously.

December 7, 2009 Full Review Source: New Yorker | Comments (5)
New Yorker
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Sheridan seems as conflicted as the Cahills about their virtues and failings.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times | Comment (1)
Los Angeles Times
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After watching this movie, I had what you might call Portman Traumautic Stress Disorder, a condition that leaves you twitchy, irritable, and in need of a well-acted light comedy.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Slate | Comments (4)
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An almost-good movie weakened by its desire to have a major impact, as melodramatic material is heated to boiling over.

December 4, 2009 Full Review Source: Globe and Mail
Globe and Mail
Top Critic IconTop Critic

A gritty sibling saga offers a strong reinforcement of the reality that, for many returned soldiers, some battle scars never heal.

September 30, 2011 Full Review Source: American Profile
American Profile

Well-acted war drama is too intense for kids.

December 31, 2010 Full Review Source: Common Sense Media | Comments (2)
Common Sense Media

Brothers is that rare type of film; one that feels real and true, never forcing itself to conform to the expectations of what a movie should contain.

October 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Quickflix

Tobey Maguire's jaw seems squarer, his eyes electrified and - as Sam's features harden - like Robert De Niro circa "The Deer Hunter." When Sam snaps - all snarls, snot and spit - Maguire and Jim Sheridan place you in his percussive, throbbing psyche.

September 25, 2010 Full Review Source:

Brothers may look like another veteran adjusting to life at home movie, but the heart of this film is a rich exploration of family relationships.

July 4, 2010

Serves as a reminder that Maguire and Portman are more than up to the task of handling much weightier and demanding material.

May 16, 2010 Full Review Source:

Quite literally a kitchen sink drama, Brothers eschews the returning soldier platitudes as well as the conventional love triangle. Instead Sheridan sticks to the characters, letting the story unfold through some truly exceptional performances.

April 14, 2010 Full Review Source: The Vine
The Vine

A compassionate crafting of lost and found families in wartime, but a seemingly self-censored scenario with the US military establishment and its combat rationale as the troubling invisible elephant in the room.

April 3, 2010 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Remakes this good are one in a million.

March 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Moviedex

After being shot down in Afghanistan and presumed dead, a soldier's return home is fraught with emotional upheaval for his whole family.

March 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Moving Pictures Magazine
Moving Pictures Magazine

Director Sheridan effectively contrasts the domestic character-driven drama set in suburban America with genuinely harrowing and authentic war sequences.

March 25, 2010 Full Review Source: Sunday Times (Australia)
Sunday Times (Australia)

While you would be better off tracking down a copy of the 2004 Danish film, this 2009 American remake still packs a punch where it counts.

March 21, 2010 Full Review Source: Cinema Autopsy
Cinema Autopsy

If you like to have your heart wrenched out in the cinema, this is for you. Even though it's a remake of the outstanding 2004 Danish original directed by Suzanne Bier (released here in 2006), Brothers carries a mighty payload of drama

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Responsibility, resentment, jealousy and guilt are the film's main themes sharing with us raw emotional chaos at the highest level. It's hard-hitting and involving

March 13, 2010 Full Review Source: Urban Cinefile
Urban Cinefile

Despite strong performances from the leads, when it comes to pacing and power, it's the Danish original that edges it. Still, a sturdy and affecting remake that brings a powerful story to an even wider audience.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Empire Magazine
Empire Magazine

If you like drama with big showdowns and plenty of heartbreak, there's plenty to enjoy here.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Film4

Brothers is a movie of moments (some of which are fine indeed) that never quite coalesce into a credible or satisfying whole.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Times [UK]
Times [UK]

Like mainstream Hollywood with a weird dollop of painful arthouse drama.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Guardian

The film feels like a spirit-sapping tour of duty: lightweight stars doing Big Emotions.

January 22, 2010 Full Review Source: Daily Telegraph | Comments (3)
Daily Telegraph

Audience Reviews for Brothers

I can't even imagine being Sam Cahill and going through what he did. This is a powerful movie and necessarily is left unfinished.
October 22, 2012

Super Reviewer

Sam Cahill: You know what I did to get back to you? You know what I did? 

"There are two sides to every family"

I've seen Brothers twice now, and my love for it went down a little on the second watch. I noticed a few scenes that were overplayed and badly written. Still, this is a really good drama and anti-war film. It shows the effects of war on a man and how he struggles coming back to normal everyday life. There's good character development at the beginning with Sam. We see how much he loves his family and how happy he is around them. That makes his lack of openness when he comes back have a little more power. The film is powerful despite the melodrama. This is one of the few films I've seen where the melodrama doesn't take away from the power of the situation. 

The film is about a man who goes to Afghanistan and is supposedly killed. In reality, he is a prisoner of war who goes through unspeakable things. Back in America, his family is comforted by his brother. When he comes back he isn't the same man, and he also has some accusations to throw around about his brother and wife's relationship. The story is really interesting and drove by good performances from Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman. Portman gave one of the best performances here, up to that point in her career. There's something about her that makes her seem very real, and allows her to nail this performance with a great deal of believability. 

This has been criticized a lot for being overly melodramatic. I can't say that it isn't either, but I never felt the melodrama rose to a level that hurt the film. There's a lot of screaming, crying, and smashing, but the story is emotional and so are the characters. Are some scenes overwritten for a tearjerking effect? Yeah. Still, I don't think the overall power of the film was hurt by the melodrama, but that is just my opinion on the matter. That's also coming from someone who normally hates melodrama. This is one of those rare occasions where it didn't ruin a film for me.

It isn't going to win any subtlety contests, but based on the central performances and the sheer power of the story and how the events unfold before our eyes; I think it is good. Good actors doing good work in a film that is worthy of the performances. I can't say the movie is perfect, but overall it works and gets the point across.
June 9, 2012
Melvin White

Super Reviewer

An incredibly well-acted movie. Toby Maguire, Natalie Portman, and Jake Gyllenhaal were all terrific. They took a cheesy, weak screenplay and made it believable and interesting. However, the movie suffers from overly simplistic pacing, cliche plot, and a lack of depth in the plot. Once again, great acting. It is good to note that though this movie has many many flaws, there is character development that genuinely gets us invested.
March 9, 2012
Albert Kim

Super Reviewer

Found the first half strangely unemotional (I mean, just speaking for myself, if I thought my husband had died in the war, and then he turned up, I would be in tears). But it does pick up a bit by the end. Acting is perfect. Particularly Natalie Portman and Tobey Maguire.
Can't say I loved it, but it's not a preferred genre of mine to start with. Decent storyline, but probably not a must see.
March 4, 2012

Super Reviewer

    1. Grace Cahill: Why are you trying to kill yourself?
    2. Capt. Sam Cahill: It's Joe Willis. I killed Joe Willis.
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (18 months ago)
    1. Terrorist: Kill him or I'll kill you!
    – Submitted by Baurushan J (18 months ago)
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Foreign Titles

  • Brothers (2009) (CA)
  • Brothers. Hermanos (ES)
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