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Brothers: movie review

Tobey Maguire plays a returning vet in ‘Brothers,’ a dark drama about identity and the costs of war on the home front.

By Peter RainerFilm critic / December 23, 2009

In this film publicity image released by Lionsgate, Tobey Maguire, left, and Jake Gyllenhaal are shown in a scene from, 'Brothers.'

Lorey Sebastian/Lionsgate/AP

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“Brothers,” the latest in a lineup of home-from-the-war movies that extends back to “Stop-Loss” and “In the Valley of Elah,” is frustrating because it misuses so much talent. Tobey Maguire, deeply miscast, plays Sam, the dutiful Marine son of an alcoholic father (Sam Shepard) who is presumed dead in Afghanistan. Natalie Portman is Sam’s high school sweetheart wife, and Jake Gyllenhaal, in the film’s only piece of believable acting, is Sam’s ne’er-do-well brother who is helping raise his two kids. Then Sam unexpectedly returns, and his violent degeneration consists mostly of breaking things and shouting. Jim Sheridan, who in better times is capable of being as good as it gets with actors – in “My Left Foot” and “In the Name of the Father” – directed from a script by David Benioff. Grade: C (Rated R for language and some disturbing violent content.)

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