"Brothers" Unraveling in wartime

Tobey Maguire, Natalie Portman and Jake Gyllenhaal in 'For Your Consideration' Ad - Brothers (2009)

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'Brothers': Family Ties, Unraveling in Wartime

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"December 4, 2009 - DAVE DAVIES, host:
Mr. JAKE GYLLENHAAL (Actor): (As Tommy Cahill) Look, you know, just say it, you know what I mean, all right. He told me I could borrow the car whenever I want.

Ms. NATALIE PORTMAN (Actor): (As Grace Cahill) Sam's dead.

(Soundbite of sobbing)

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Tommy) What are you talking about?

Ms. PORTMAN: (As Grace) He's dead, Tommy, (unintelligible).

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Tommy) Why didn't you call me? Why'd you let him go over there, Grace?

Ms. PORTMAN: (As Grace) Tommy.

Mr. GYLLENHAAL: (As Tommy) Well, what now, huh?

EDELSTEIN: It's not a spoiler to say top-billed Tobey Maguire does not, in fact, die in the first 15 minutes. But for much of "Brothers," he's thought by his family to be dead. Director Jim Sheridan skips among the three protagonists - Sam in Afghanistan, and Tommy and Grace back home -but he never loses the story's pulse. That's because the story isn't Sam or Tommy or Grace individually but the family unit. It's how Sam's actions when he's captured relate to how his dad raised him and what he owes Grace. And how Tommy's assumption of responsibility is partly because Grace is so pretty and her older daughter is so needy, and partly to prove something to his dad that he couldn't when Sam was alive.
Who'd have guessed that stars who made their names as nerd heroes Peter Parker and Donnie Darko could be so credibly messed up and volatile? Maguire isn't big physically but his tautness radiates power. Responsibility is his mantra. When he's thrown in a pit with one of his men, he coldly orders the soldier to forget his family, forget everything but his name. But as we jump back to Sam's wife and daughters, we wonder, can he really forget his own? Copyright © 2009 National Public Radio®.

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