Brothers

on December 04, 2009 by Shlomo Schwartzberg
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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 "Apocalypse Now."

"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 clich├ęs 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 Thomsen and 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

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