Saturday, December 5, 2009

Brother 2 Brother

Brothers, the new film starring Natalie Portman, Tobey McGuire, and Jake Gyllenhaal is based on a 2004 Danish film of the same name. So before I went to see the American version, I watched the original on Netflix. Basically the stories are the same. [Spoilers ahead.] A soldier leaves his family to serve in Afghanistan. He has an accident and everyone believes he's dead. Meanwhile his brother, who has just gotten out of prison, becomes closer to the soldier's wife and children. Then everyone learns that the soldier is actually alive, but, because of a horrendous deed he commits in Afghanistan, he's not quite the same man and so much melodrama ensues when he returns home.

Usually when a foreign film is remade for American audiences, I prefer the foreign version. Think La Femme Nikita versus Point of No Return. But in this case, I think the American remake is actually better. That's because of McGuire's turn as the soldier is an infinitely better performance than the Danish actor's portrayal. The chemistry between Portman as the the soldier's wife and Gyllenhaal as the brother is also a lot better. But both versions are worthy of your time just to compare the nuances. For example, the portrayal of the Afghans in the American version is infinitely more sinister than how they are portrayed in the Danish film. One theme is common, however--war is hell in any language.

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