Talented Danish filmmaker Susanne Bier
("Open Hearts") delivers a powerhouse drama
with superb performances that nevertheless
succumbs to melodrama by the end. It's the
story of two brothers--upright career soldier
Michael (Ulrich Thomsen) and ne'er do well
failure Jannick (Nikolaj Lie Kaas)--and what
happens when Michael is presumed dead
after his helicopter is attacked in Afghanistan.
Eschewing any direct comment on the
morality of war, Bier and screenwriter Anders
Thomas Jensen hew closer to the tragic love
triangle of "Coming Home," here involving
Michael's wife Sarah (Connie Nielsen), than
they do to the political pyrotechnics of
"Brothers" also bears strong similarities to
Jensen's script for "Wilbur Wants to Kill
Himself." Whereas that film was let down by
leaden direction, the deficiencies of "Brothers"
lie in its wholesale adoption of war film
clichés and obvious plotting. The principal
stars and Bier's confident direction propel the
film a lot further than it would otherwise go.
Starring Connie Nielsen, Ulrich
Nikolaj Lie Kaas. Directed by Susanne Bier.
Written by Anders Thomas Jensen. Produced
by Sisse Graum Olsen and Peter Aalbeck
Jensen. An IFC release. Drama.
Danish-language; subtitled. Rated R for
violence, language and brief nudity. Running
time: 118 min