Brothers (Brodre) (15)

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The ViewBirmingham Review

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Review byMatthew Turner04/05/2005

Four out of Five stars
Running time: 117 mins
In Danish with English subtitles

Impressively directed and with terrific performances from its leads, this is a powerful, emotionally charged drama.

Brothers is the second superb Danish film to come out in two weeks. Both this film and In Your Hands played at the London Film Festival last year, where they were well-received by both critics and audiences, so it’s great that they’ve both been given the theatrical releases they deserve.

Powerful Drama With Terrific Performances

Brothers, in particular, deserves to be seen by as wide an audience as possible, as it’s a powerful, compelling drama with terrific performances.

Denmark’s most ubiquitous actor and Charles Kennedy lookalike Ulrich Thomsen (who coincidentally also has a small part in Kingdom of Heaven) plays Michael, the “good” son and family man who gets posted to Afghanistan as part of the peace-keeping force shortly after his black sheep brother Jannik (Nikolaj Lie Kaas) gets out of prison.

When Michael’s helicopter gets shot down, he is presumed Killed In Action and Jannik gradually develops a sense of responsibility for Michael’s grieving wife Sarah (Connie Nielsen, returning to her homeland) and their two adorable daughters (Sarah Juel Werner and Rebecca Logstrup).

Unbeknownst to his family, however, Michael is still alive and enduring a horrific imprisonment that takes its toll on his sanity, but things get even worse when he finally arrives home and sees the closeness between his brother and his wife.

The plot itself may be a familiar one, but it’s worth noting that the last time Hollywood used a similar story, the film that resulted was Pearl Harbor. With Brothers, director and co-writer Susanne Bier (who made the equally acclaimed Open Hearts) trusts that the powerful emotions of her characters will carry the story and the results are extremely moving.

Well Written And Impressively Directed

The acting by the three leads is terrific. Thomsen is heart-breaking as the traumatised family man trying to hold it all together and his eventual breakdown is as upsetting as it is terrifying. Kaas is equally good as a man slowly backing away from the edge after a glimpse of family life offers him redemption. He also has genuine chemistry with Nielsen: the scene where they almost kiss is a definite highlight among several superb scenes.

As for Nielsen herself, she proves that Hollywood has yet to give her a role that’s worthy of her talents and gives a strong performance that is effectively the centre of the film. There’s also good support from Bent Mejding and Solbjorg Hojfeldt as the brothers’ parents, whose favouritism towards Michael is in some way responsible for how Jannik turned out.

In short, Brothers is an impressively directed, well written drama with strong performances and it will be interesting to see what Susanne Bier does next. Highly recommended.

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Content updated: 23/03/2019 17:25

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