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Puerto Vallarta News NetworkEntertainment | December 2009 

Jim Sheridan's The Brothers - Reviewed
email this pageprint this pageemail usAlex Gomez - PVNN
December 20, 2009

The Brothers Directed by Jim Sheridan (2009, 1hr 50min - Rated R)
I have a friend in Canada who is convinced that Jake Gyllenhall is gay. We banter about this back and forth on email. The last email I sent her about him, which I wrote after watching Jake being interviewed about The Brothers late night, said that if he was gay, then he had mastered the art of passing.

I remember I saw a photo of him with Reese Witherspoon in which he was wearing shorts and sports socks up to his knees. I quickly wrote to my friend and told her that no self-respecting gay man would ever wear socks up to his knees. At the time, she was living in the Church and Wellesley area of Toronto, or the "gay ghetto."

She wrote back that she had seen many gay men wearing the same look, which I took as a sign that "the gay ghetto," that I had once loved visiting, was going to the dogs, or worse, becoming ordinary. And I can only hope that neither Jake nor Reese is a Scientologist.

Regardless of whether Jake is gay or not, he made a masterful performance of his role as Tommy to Tobey Maguire's Sam in the movie. I have to say that everyone in the movie, even the young girls, Isabelle and Maggie (Bailee Madison and Taylor Grace Geare, respectively), who played Sam's daughters, did an excellent job in their roles.

I was hoping that Natalie Portman (who plays Sam's wife, Grace) would get a Golden Globe for this film (as she did for her role in Closer), just so she that Meryl Streep would be provoked into congratulating her oh-so-sarcastically once again. Alas, the nomination went to Tobey Maguire, ostensibly because his character is the most traumatized in the film.

Sam has good reason to be traumatized: he becomes an U.S. Marine (this would certainly be enough to traumatize me) and goes to Afghanistan, only to be captured alongside a friend, Private Joe Willis (Patrick Fleuger) after their helicopter crashes, by the oh-so-evil with a Capital E Afghans (are they really all terrorists?) in a tiny, womanless mountain village.

Meanwhile, back home (wherever this might be; my guess is the outskirts of Montreal, for all the ice and snow in the place), Tommy, who at the beginning of the film emerges from prison after having done time for armed robbery, and Grace grieve over the mistaken news of Sam's death.

Tommy, in part from a desire to redeem himself in his family's eyes, and also in part because he can't ever hope to find employment again, gives Grace's kitchen a make-over with the help of some comical friends. At one point, Grace and he share a spliff, and then kiss, only to immediately regret it. Tommy takes over as father figure to his brother's girls, and all their lives regain a semblance of normalcy.

However, back in Afghanistan, life for Sam and his mate Joe is anything but normal. They are abused and tortured by the 'Afghans,' and forced to make videos renouncing their homeland. Furthering the evil, Sam is forced at gunpoint to beat Joe to death with a steel pipe. No sooner has he done this than he is rescued and flown back home.

His entire family welcomes him, though his return is completely unexpected, and it is clear to them that he has been badly scarred by his experiences as a hostage. He refuses to tell anyone the truth about what happened to him at the front, but on the night after his daughter Maggie's birthday party, during which a jealous Isabelle blurts out that her mother and uncle slept together, Sam breaks down and destroys the kitchen that Tommy and friends re-modelled for him, and waving a menacing gun around.

The police arrive, and if not for Tommy's protests, would have shot and killed Sam, if he were not to shoot himself first. Instead, they take him to a mental hospital.

Such drama! The movie actually brought tears to my eyes more than once, because it reminded me of my brother's and mine fierce loyalty to one another, despite the many times it's been compromised by others.

In the end, I have to say I enjoyed the movie, despite its uncritical and unquestioned portrayal of Afghan terrorism, as well as the Golden Globe nomination of an U2 song, because I have to admit that I agreed with Liam Gallagher (from Oasis) one hundred percent when he told Bono to go f*** himself.
Alex Gomez is an award-winning writer, who'd die if he couldn't write. To date, he has written numerous short stories, hundreds of articles and two serious novels.

Click HERE to read more articles by Alex Gomez.

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