Thursday, December 3, 2009

Brothers: A Review

From the first promo of the film, I was hooked. First, I love director Jim Sheridan's work. In America is a very intimate, raw portrayal of a family trying to survive in New York City. Not many filmmakers have the skill or take the time to really develop child characters. Sheridan has the ability to have young children (in Brothers -- Bailee Madison and Taylor Geare) bring an extremely powerful performance amongst actors like Sam Shepard, Natalie Portman, Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire -- wow!

I was convinced I had to see the film after seeing an interview with Natalie Portman on David Letterman. When discussing the film, Letterman had true passion in his voice when he said it was one of the best films of the past decade. Portman was very humbled by Letterman's response and you could tell she agreed with him that the film was special. And she appeared truly honored to have been part of the film. I now understand why. 

So when The Wrap offered a screening last night, I jumped on it. I'm glad I did. Brothers is a quiet, intimate journey with a family as they deal with the homecoming of one son (Jake Gyllenhaal) from prison and the departure of another (Tobey Maguire) to war. We are then swept up in the lives of these characters as they deal with the absence of the man at war who is a son, brother, husband, and father. The effects of his absence resonate through the entire family and Sheridan takes the time to really explore these effects on each and every character -- his brother, wife (Portman), his two kids, and his father (Shepard) and stepmother (Mare Winningham). 

Brothers is the exact kind of film that is being threatened by the independent film collapse. Sure, it helps that the cast is big and wonderful and Jim Sheridan has a fan base of his own. It may also help that it is a remake of a Danish film of the same name. But, in general, dramatic films of this nature are being wiped out by reluctant investors and distributors. So please go support this beautiful film -- for the sake of your own careers as indie filmmakers. You won't regret it. 


Noah Harlan said...

Jane, while I can't comment about the quality of the film not having seen it, I'm not sure this film qualifies as "indie". Yes, it's Lionsgate distributing, but this was a Relativity/Michael De Luca film - big Hollywood players and a budget of $25 million without P&A.

I think this film is emblematic of what is destroying smart filmmaking. They are making films for way too much money relative to the reasonable break-even points. If we look at similar films like Rendition, Stop-Loss & Valley of Elah we see films that performed nicely at the box office (high seven to low eight figure box offices) but they were made for too much and lost people money. They also furthered the meme that the films can't make money.

Jentri said...

I've been really excited to see this film. Thanks for the review, Jane. :)

Jane Kelly Kosek said...

I agree that it kills me to include large budgeted films with major Hollywood players as indie BUT I don't know if I agree that they shouldn't be considered indie. I am sure Ryan Kavanagh and Michael De Luca had to convince private equity players to invest in their films, just like I do on a much smaller scale.

And I absolutely agree that films like Brothers et al are being made for too much money. I think Hollywood players get used to having the big bucks and they don't really know how to make a film for less. Belts can be tightened but they have to be willing. And until those who control the money and the budget realize that they can make films for less money, it won't happen.

Noah Harlan said...

Not really, Ryan has a couple billion in assets that he uses to finance and he has that money in massive tranches from hedge funds. He's not doing the hustle like we are...

In fact, he is the guy who controls the money in Hollywood.

Eric Davidson said...

I thought 'Brothers' was amazing all around, great storytelling in particular - the director went from one point to the next without messing around