So a funny thing happened.  As a cineaste, I have a tendency (read: need) to see EVERYTHING.  This would include seeing the remakes of films I love while all the time bitching things like, “how dare they remake it!” That would, then, obviously lead you to the conclusion that I would intend to see Jim Sheridan’s “Brothers,”  a remake of the 2005 Danish film we are here to discuss today.  While watching “Brodre,” however, and with the remake’s trailer in mind…I don’t know that I need to anymore.  I’ve already seen the film.  Why see it again?

The film itself is quite interesting.  It’s a rough and rampant point-and-shoot.  A winner of the Sundance Film Festival, which Focus Features picked up, the quality sometimes reaches the level of the film student.  The film is awash with dingy color and there are even jump cut shots in the form of scenes such as where one character is talking in a medium shot, and the camera cuts in on him talking to a slightly different framing from THE VERY SAME ANGLE.  I haven’t read much on this film, and maybe director Susanna Bier would even try to claim that this is a stylistic choice.  Seeing as it is produced by Lars Von Triers’ Zentropa, it could very well be a decision based off of the Dogme 95 movement.   However, I can not gather any point in the cuts other than that the editor was hard up for footage and had to cut in, breaking the 30 degree angle rule for shot-to-shot moves.

Where the film succeeds is simply telling a good story well.  And not going for the easy out.  This version follows two brothers:  Michael is loved by his father, married with children, and about to go out on a mission to Afghanistan.  Meanwhile, Jannik has just been released from prison, doesn’t have a job, isn’t much cherished by old dad and is always getting in trouble.

Michael’s helicopter crashes on his way in on his first mission.  He is declared dead.  Of course he is not.  Torn by grief, and attempting to man up, Jannik becomes an integral part of Michael’s life, family, children, and wife (played with passion by Connie Nielson in the films strongest performance—she is the hedge pin of the piece.)  Jannik fixes the kitchen, forms a bond with the family, and generally becomes quite the Uncle.  Meanwhile, feelings are beginning to occur between Jannik and Nielson’s Sarah—of course they do.

And that’s where the film gets very interesting.  I don’t want to spoil it for you.  And I would encourage you to see this version in case the remake fucks it up.  This gets it right.  And it knows things about humanity.  The wife and the brothers are real people.  And they make real decisions.  And sure they are flawed, but they don’t play into plot devices.  They make decisions and face their consequences.  I want to tell you what I like so much about the triangle of brothers and wife…I do.  So I better stop here.  Check it out if you get the chance.  At worst, it’ll inspire you into thinking that you can make a film that “looks  like that”.

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