Brothers is an excellent movie. It is one of those films that has made a profound impact on me, and one that I will refer to time and time again for the inspiring message it contains and the brilliant acting it showcases.
We can say, on a basic level, that it is a movie about the traumas of war, that cannot be erased from the mind – a subconscious mind that overpowers the heart. But many movies have been written about this theme. Brothers is not simply an updated version of the “Dear Hunter”, where Viet Nam has been transposed to Afghanistan.
What makes “Brothers” special is that it is, more in general, a movie about accepting people with the troubles they have, without judging or criticizing. Capt. Sam Cahill is presented, during most of the film, as a model human being and a war hero. By contrast his brother, Tommy, recently out of jail, is viewed as a looser, as someone who always gets into trouble, who didn’t amount to anything, who is a disgrace for the family.
By the end of the movie, these roles invert. Tommy is the hero, the noble and sensitive human being who cares for a family and is lovable and mature. Sam is a frightening human being, who lost everything wonderful about him and becomes indecipherable and aggressive, unable to create rapport with any human being, including his wife and daughters.
Impeccably acted by a superb cast (Nathalie Portman, Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal), Brothers makes the powerful, yet subtle statement that to love a person means to try to understand his or her predicament(s) – no matter how tragic (Sam) or insignificant (Tommy) they may seem. Isn’t that what brotherhood means after all?