Brothers isn't badly acted, but as directed by the increasingly impersonal Jim Sheridan, it's lumbering and heavy-handed, a film that piles on overwrought dramatic twists until it begins to creak under the weight of its presumed significance.
Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly
Brothers itself -- a smart, well-meaning project -- never quite pulls itself together.
A.O. Scott - New York Times
Like mainstream Hollywood with a weird dollop of painful arthouse drama.
Peter Bradshaw - Guardian [UK]
Sheridan is a consistently agile storyteller, drawing strong performances from even the youngest actors.
Claudia Puig - USA Today
Is it a movie you'll enjoy? Not enjoy, so much as appreciate. Or maybe recognize.
Michael O'Sullivan - Washington Post
This is a corny tale, told with both generous helpings of deli-sliced cheese and a brief stretch of chilling tumultuousness.
Wesley Morris - Boston Globe
[Sheridan] aims for Greek tragedy but ends up with a PTSD melodrama.
Melissa Anderson - Village Voice
Brothers tries to delve into how war can tear families apart, but only succeeds in showing how miscasting and melodrama obscure good intentions.
Joe Neumaier - New York Daily News
Brothers never fully earns the right to exploit Sam's crucible in Afghanistan and the angry anguish it brings about.
Lisa Kennedy - Denver Post
Brothers -- an Americanized re-make of Danish director Susanne Bier's 2004 film "Brodre" -- revolves around the Afghan War but also keeps its distance, a balancing act that winds up looking more wobbly than elegant.
James Rocchi - MSN Movies
Sheridan pulls you so deep into Brothers so fast that there isn't time for the alarm bell to go off that says: "Warning! Another Traumatized-Vet Movie!" You never catch Sheridan or Benioff grandstanding, only observing.
David Edelstein - New York Magazine
Brothers, the new home-from-the-war film, written by David Benioff and directed by Jim Sheridan, has been made with obvious devotion and sincerity, and I wish I could take it seriously.
David Denby - New Yorker
This becomes Tobey Maguire's film to dominate, and I've never seen these dark depths in him before. Actors possess a great gift to surprise us, if they find the right material in their hands.
Roger Ebert - Chicago Sun-Times
It's easy to overlook a drama like Brothers, with its plain-spoken title and stern subject matter. Don't. The film is gripping---an honorable and beautifully acted addition to the tradition of homefront war stories.
Michael Phillips - Chicago Tribune
Bier's film succeeded on the merits of its actors, and this one offers fine performances by Portman and Gyllenhaal, but Maguire doesn't cut the mustard.
J. R. Jones - Chicago Reader
Brothers is a heartbreaking film that speaks to the lifelong aftershocks of war, and to the powerful bonds of family and of love.
Steven Rea - Philadelphia Inquirer
The film packs a wallop. Too bad about the missteps. It could've been a knockout.
Colin Covert - Minneapolis Star Tribune
Sheridan and Maguire orchestrate things perfectly here, running a line of tension through the film that explodes at the end, just as it should.
Tom Long - Detroit News
Brothers is a powerful statement on loyalty, love and the cost of war.
Bill Goodykoontz - Arizona Republic
A soap opera ensues with more cliches than one movie can survive.
Rex Reed - New York Observer
Plays like a more polished but less effective twin to the 2005 Danish original.
Justin Chang - Variety
Brothers isn't nearly as unbearable as most of the anti-war pictures of the last five years, but when it comes to members of the armed services, screenwriters continue to lose their ability to think in more than one dimension.
Kyle Smith - New York Post
As predicable and cloying as Brothers sometimes is, the cast is fascinating, young actors now possessing the dramatic heft to pull something like this off.
Roger Moore - Orlando Sentinel
It's almost as if Sheridan and screenwriter David Benioff were constructing a pile of old bones for a museum installation, with no live connective tissue required.
Peter Howell - Toronto Star
A depressing tale of contrived melodrama that fails to make any point at all.
Laremy Legel - Film.com
An almost-good movie weakened by its desire to have a major impact, as melodramatic material is heated to boiling over.
Liam Lacey - Globe and Mail
Sheridan shapes the drama so casually that he succeeds in making it feel naturalistically unshaped.
Stephanie Zacharek - Salon.com
After watching this movie, I had what you might call Portman Traumautic Stress Disorder, a condition that leaves you twitchy, irritable, and in need of a well-acted light comedy.
Dana Stevens - Slate
This is a powerful, disturbing film that explores common cinematic territory -- the ability of war to destroy the individual -- without seeming cliched or familiar.
James Berardinelli - ReelViews
A remake of a Danish film has much to admire but never comes together with the impact of the original.
Kirk Honeycutt - Hollywood Reporter
The aspiration of Brothers is noble. But it can't preserve the intimacy of the original film, and the loosened characters slide into cliche.
Jake Coyle - Associated Press
Natalie Portman deserves an Oscar nomination. Tobey Magure in the performance of his career. This is the best movie I've seen this year.
Richard Roeper - Richard Roeper.com
Sheridan seems as conflicted as the Cahills about their virtues and failings.
Betsy Sharkey - Los Angeles Times
Dean Essner - Sight and Sound
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out
A gritty sibling saga offers a strong reinforcement of the reality that, for many returned soldiers, some battle scars never heal.
Neil Pond - American Profile
Mark Kermode - BBC Radio Five Live
Well-acted war drama is too intense for kids.
Sandie Angulo Chen - Common Sense Media
Brothers is that rare type of film; one that feels real and true, never forcing itself to conform to the expectations of what a movie should contain.
Simon Miraudo - Quickflix
Tobey Maguire's jaw seems squarer, his eyes electrified and - as Sam's features harden - like Robert De Niro circa "The Deer Hunter." When Sam snaps - all snarls, snot and spit - Maguire and Jim Sheridan place you in his percussive, throbbing psyche.
Nick Rogers - Suite101.com
Brothers may look like another veteran adjusting to life at home movie, but the heart of this film is a rich exploration of family relationships.
Cris Kennedy - Screenwize
Serves as a reminder that Maguire and Portman are more than up to the task of handling much weightier and demanding material.
Michael Dequina - TheMovieReport.com
Quite literally a kitchen sink drama, Brothers eschews the returning soldier platitudes as well as the conventional love triangle. Instead Sheridan sticks to the characters, letting the story unfold through some truly exceptional performances.
Alice Tynan - The Vine
A compassionate crafting of lost and found families in wartime, but a seemingly self-censored scenario with the US military establishment and its combat rationale as the troubling invisible elephant in the room.
Prairie Miller - NewsBlaze
After being shot down in Afghanistan and presumed dead, a soldier's return home is fraught with emotional upheaval for his whole family.
Annlee Ellingson - Moving Pictures Magazine
Remakes this good are one in a million.
Anders Wotzke - Cut Print Review
Anders Wotzke - Moviedex
Director Sheridan effectively contrasts the domestic character-driven drama set in suburban America with genuinely harrowing and authentic war sequences.
Gavin Bond - Sunday Times (Australia)
While you would be better off tracking down a copy of the 2004 Danish film, this 2009 American remake still packs a punch where it counts.
Thomas Caldwell - Cinema Autopsy
If you like to have your heart wrenched out in the cinema, this is for you. Even though it's a remake of the outstanding 2004 Danish original directed by Suzanne Bier (released here in 2006), Brothers carries a mighty payload of drama
Andrew L. Urban - Urban Cinefile
Responsibility, resentment, jealousy and guilt are the film's main themes sharing with us raw emotional chaos at the highest level. It's hard-hitting and involving
Louise Keller - Urban Cinefile
It takes two-thirds of the film for any scene of real emotional truth or power to emerge - and by then we're lost.
Dave Calhoun - Time Out
A sudsy remake that soft-soaps its tougher inspiration. The A-list stars go for it, but are 10 years off doing the story justice.
Neil Smith - Total Film
Jim Sheridan smartly retains Bier's deceptively simple plotting, which provides a solid foundation for him to explore the emotional journeys of his characters.
Alistair Harkness - Scotsman
Maguire and Gyllenhaal give honest performances, though they don't really convince as blood. Carey Mulligan, our own current darling, makes a brief but telling appearance as a war widow.
Anthony Quinn - Independent
Don't be put off by the "Afghan war" tag - Brothers isn't half as harrowing as some of the other awards-bait offerings coming our way. This touching family drama deserves to find an audience.
Charles Gant - Heat Magazine
As rowdy, democratic and open-ended as a Robert Altman saga, Brothers breathes life into the cliches surrounding traumatised vets.
Charlotte O'Sullivan - This is London
Jim Sheridan's plodding direction and the miscasting of Maguire mean that it looks too much like glossy melodrama to involve many people's emotions.
Christopher Tookey - Daily Mail [UK]
It's a tense and slightly affecting movie with a few quite good performances. Unfortunately, it's also so mind-bendingly overblown that it makes 2012 look like The White Ribbon.
Charlie Lyne - Ultra Culture
Brothers is a film that fails on almost every level, coming with no meaningful message about the morality of war, saying nothing about sibling relationships and with the worst case of miscasting I can recall.
David Edwards - Daily Mirror [UK]
Far less than the sum of its parts, Brothers fails to reach the heights that the intriguing premise, talented cast and award-winning director could have attained with some tweaking to the script.
Ben Rawson-Jones - Digital Spy
A watchable, well made drama with a superb performance from Jake Gyllenhaal but it lacks both the subtlety and the emotional impact of the Danish original.
Matthew Turner - ViewLondon
A mish-mash of great performances that don't quite add up to a great movie.
Robbie Collin - News of the World
This remake of Susanne Bier's 2004 drama is an equally powerful story of family tensions and how violence affects more than just the victim. But the original Danish film's strained melodrama translates here as well.
Rich Cline - Shadows on the Wall
Brothers is a movie of moments (some of which are fine indeed) that never quite coalesce into a credible or satisfying whole.
Kevin Maher - Times [UK]
If you like drama with big showdowns and plenty of heartbreak, there's plenty to enjoy here.
Dean Essner - Film4
The fine interplay between the three leads builds to a gripping, emotionally devastating finale that offers no easy answers while still arriving at a poignant and satisfying conclusion.
Chris Prince - Sky Movies
A welcome reminder of just how fine an actor Gyllenhaal can be and one of the reasons to catch this understated tale of a family at war.
Allan Hunter - Daily Express
While Brothers is raw in its realism and loud in its chest-beating, it's still mechanically cold to watch.
James King - Little White Lies
Brothers is distinguished by emotionally raw performances and an escalating tension.
Catherine Jones - Liverpool Echo
The film feels like a spirit-sapping tour of duty: lightweight stars doing Big Emotions.
Tim Robey - Daily Telegraph
Despite strong performances from the leads, when it comes to pacing and power, it's the Danish original that edges it. Still, a sturdy and affecting remake that brings a powerful story to an even wider audience.
Will Lawrence - Empire Magazine
A slightly bland Portman and an overwrought Maguire rather highlight the contrived turns in the plotting of what is a thoroughly respectable effort, but one that is not all it could have been.
Trevor Johnston - Radio Times
The result, wavering between intensity and bombast, is part Eugene O'Neill, part topical TV movie.
Leo Robson - Financial Times
While Jim Sheridan's update isn't terribly different at its core, its all-American setting quietly places a firmer emphasis on the toll of our current war at home.
William Goss - Cinematical
The continual histrionics aren't as potent as little (emotional) earthquakes might have been
Nathaniel Rogers - Film Experience
Grim and realistic, 'Brothers' is not so much a story about war as it is an adults-only tale about the effects of war%u2026not just on those involved as soldiers, but also the families of warfighters.
Linda Cook - Quad City Times (Davenport, IA)
The male leads come across a bit too much as rising to the demands of their roles, not so much being the living essence of their characters.
Jules Brenner - Cinema Signals
The actors are uniformly good and deliver convincing, sympathetic performances...and help make this a true ensemble effort.
Robin Clifford - Reeling Reviews
Sheds some of the original's impact. But the emotional currents remain so charged that you won't need a translator to understand the heartache conveyed on screen.
Sean O'Connell - Charlotte Weekly
It has strength and maturity beyond that of many adult dramas.
Eric D. Snider - EricDSnider.com
full review at Movies for the Masses
Joseph Proimakis - Movies for the Masses
The director is Jim Sheridan, also of In the Name of the Father and Some Mother's Son, so at least the family dynamics come naturally.
Jonathan Kiefer - Sacramento News & Review
Sheridan declines the dissociative artiness and blame that hipster filmmakers use to exempt themselves from today's wars.
Armond White - New York Press
It contains one of the most dramatic, suspenseful, emotionally-charged scenes of the year.
Robert Roten - Laramie Movie Scope
Brothers is an elegant and devastating exploration of identity.
Shaula Clark - Boston Phoenix
In this plodding the war-at-home drama, a lip gloss-wearing Portman is miscast as a suburban mom. And though Maguire and Gyllenhaal succeed as brothers, Maguire works too hard -- and Gyllenhaal is tragically underutilized.
Thelma Adams - Us Weekly
War is hell and this movie shows some of the consequences. A beautifully directed film that is amazingly acted.
Jackie K. Cooper - jackiekcooper.com
Tobey Maguire is the dark, compelling heart of Jim Sheridan's surprising new film.
Devin Faraci - CHUD
Ironically, and presumably not intended, the focus is far more compelling when we spend screen time with the other, younger pair of siblings.
Kimberly Gadette - Indie Movies Online
Jim Sheridan directs disappointing remake of Danish dysfunctional family saga.
Kam Williams - NewsBlaze
Brothers is rooted in character-interplay, which Sheridan observes empathetically and from the ground level.
Mark Palermo - Coast (Halifax, Nova Scotia)
In the large canon of war films, Brothers falls somewhere in the upper middle of the pack, but it's not bold or original enough to make a lasting name for itself.
Gina Carbone - Seacoast Newspapers (NH/Maine)
...a slightly above-average movie-of-the-week.
David Nusair - Reel Film Reviews
A frustrating cobble of war story, familial drama and domestic melodrama.
Michelle Orange - Movieline
A sympathetic case study of PTSD, but seems to be solved by an embrace. The histrionics keep it short of the effectiveness of more restrained war-at-home message dramas.
Nora Lee Mandel - Film-Forward.com
Some scenes are so strained and emotions are stretched so tight that you %u2014 like the characters %u2014 want to get up and leave.
Gary Wolcott - Tri-City Herald
Those...who've seen the Danish original can't help but feel that some of the power and depth have been lost in translation.
Frank Swietek - One Guy's Opinion
When Carey Mulligan (the breakout star of An Education) pops up in a cameo, you realize how rich the film would be with her in the lead.
Amy Nicholson - I.E. Weekly
Tobey Maguire surprised me with the depth and maturity of his acting in this well-made but disturbing Jim Sheridan film.
Betty Jo Tucker - ReelTalk Movie Reviews
Brothers isn't your standard PTSD yarn.
Christian Toto - What Would Toto Watch?
All the men in Afghanistan -- native and invasive -- are struggling to survive, to make order of rocky chaos.
Cynthia Fuchs - PopMatters
Deft acting -- hello Tobey Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, Natalie Portman --saves the flick from wallowing too deeply into melodrama.
Leslie Gornstein - E! Online
Director Jim Sheridan takes us on this harrowing journey.
Jeanne Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
In its attempt to examine the war on terror through the lens of family struggles, Brothers occasionally works. Ultimately, however, it fails in two respects.
Sonny Bunch - Washington Times
While "Brothers" is hardly uplifting material, it is a marvelous display of ensemble acting.
David Kaplan - Kaplan vs. Kaplan
Despite its title, Sheridan's film is less concerned with sibling rivalry (romantic or otherwise) and more with post-traumatic stress disorder -- which would be fine if it had anything particularly new or profound to add to the conversation. Unfortunately
Rick Mele - AskMen.com
The trailers give away 99.9% of the film but I still recommend a viewing to see Tobey Maguire's breathtaking performance.
Kevin McCarthy - BDK Reviews
This is a sad story, no doubt, yet also one that leaves us with a bit of hope. All in all, a profoundly affecting and meaningful movie.
Mike McGranaghan - Aisle Seat
Brothers shows us that even when our troops do come home, their war may be far from over.
Ramin Setoodeh - Newsweek
Maguire's work [is] impressive. There are scenes where he conveys more with a glare or with a false smile that says more than pages of dialogue.
Daniel M. Kimmel - New England Movies Weekly
Brothers helps us understand how deep pain can branch out like tree roots and poison everything in its path.
Diana Saenger - ReviewExpress.com
There is some wonderful acting on display.
Clint O'Connor - Cleveland Plain Dealer
What's the international symbol for Emoting Ahead?
Liz Braun - Jam! Movies
A riveting drama about a Marine captain who brings the violence of the war in Afghanistan home to his wife, two daughters, and brother in America.
Frederic and Mary Ann Brussat - Spirituality and Practice
This Brothers can't help but feel like a shadow of the original, but its quieter stretches are quite successful.
Tim Grierson - The Simon
Brothers is ultimately like someone remaking a recipe that worked before but altering a few essential ingredients. It doesn't taste as good and only makes you wonder why anyone thought to make it again.
Brian Tallerico - Movie Retriever
The movie feels so contained and relentlessly tasteful it's as if Sheridan were determined to take a story about war, guilt, violence and sex and make all of those things as passionless as possible.
Chris Hewitt (St. Paul) - St. Paul Pioneer Press
Brother turns on a single moment of such implausibility that nearly everything that comes after it rings false as a result.
Brandon Fibbs - BrandonFibbs.com
That Portman and Gyllenhaal develop such easy, loving chemistry in their scenes together is a major coup for the filmmakers, the emotional engine that drives the story.
Robert Levin - Film School Rejects
Sheridan takes a routine story and presents it with clenching seriousness, making it not only boring, but unpleasant.
Jeffrey M. Anderson - Combustible Celluloid
In a role without any flamboyant touches, playing what is essentially just a decent, intelligent woman, Portman lends the film dignity, understanding and true radiance.
Mick LaSalle - San Francisco Chronicle
Michelle Thomas - Future Movies UK
As domestic melodramas go, this one really isn't all that bad.
Dave White - Movies.com
It's tempting to call Brothers a war film, but the war is only a backdrop for any family tragedy. Sheridan and his brilliant cast show deft and sensitive handling of complex and universal issues. Oscar noms abound.
Diva Velez - TheDivaReview.com
If someone explained the plot of Brothers to me, I would think it was an episode of The Maury Povich Show.
Willie Waffle - WaffleMovies.com
Marjorie Baumgarten - Austin Chronicle
As Sam, Tobey Maguire undergoes a complete transformation into a mentally traumatized individual, but his excellent performance isn't adequately supported by David Benioff's sporadically amateurish script.
Cole Smithey - ColeSmithey.com
Sheridan's stellar past work informs and uplifts Brothers and brings out some of the best performances of the year; in the case of Tobey Maguire as the soldier and Natalie Portman as his wife, these are the best performances of their careers.
Justin Strout - Orlando Weekly
powerful and damning.
Norm Schrager - Filmcritic.com
A tremendous film, gently reworking its inspiration into a more open wound experience, with three superb lead performances capable of communicating the raw urges and sideswiping confusion of a life lived to the best of intentions.
Brian Orndorf - BrianOrndorf.com
When you compare its promise and pedigree with the ultimate results, there is no getting around the fact that it is one of the more disappointing films of the season.
Peter Sobczynski - eFilmCritic.com
Parental Content Review
Jim Judy - Screen It!
In the end the great performances can't save the film. Mediocrity drips from every other aspect of the film, and you can feel it trying too hard to convince us that we should care.
Matthew Razak - Examiner.com
Brothers sometimes feels unnecessarily Hollywood, but there's a surprising amount of truth in there as well.
Katey Rich - CinemaBlend.com
What might have been a new spin on a relatively chilly piece of filmmaking becomes a carbon copy created for audiences who don't like subtitles -- meanwhile, all the flaws of Bier's movie remain completely intact and untouched.
Alonso Duralde - IFC.com
Brothers has all the right ingredients -- it's made with care, and it works very well. But it rarely finds the raw intensity that the Danish original did; adding a little polish, in this case, took away a bit of the grit.
Moira MacDonald - Seattle Times
A solidly developed look at the toll of war on individuals and the bonds they have.
Mark Dujsik - Mark Reviews Movies
It's a combustible (though boilerplate) situation that Bier, once Dogme 95-certified, plays to the hilt. For his part, Sheridan treats it with a turgidness that shouldn't be mistaken for restraint.
Scott Tobias - AV Club
There's something naggingly unconvincing about the whole thing, and that might explain why it often feels exploitive rather than emotional.
Gary Thompson - Philadelphia Daily News
Tobey Maguire delivers a career-defining performance.
Rebecca Murray - About.com
A wisely restrained examination of what makes a family, especially as people change over time ... This isn't a melodrama; it's just life, experienced.
Matt Pais - Metromix.com
The complexity Sheridan inspires in the reactions of two little girls to the adult drama encircling them is one of the film's great joys and the entire cast is terrific, but...
Laura Clifford - rec.arts.movies.reviews
Perhaps it's true that, as some analysts say, generals are always re-fighting the last war. But when did directors start doing it, too?
Stephen Whitty - Newark Star-Ledger
As a melodrama, Brothers is passable entertainment. But the film squanders the opportunity to meaningfully portray the impact of war on American lives.
Calvin Wilson - St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Good, old-fashioned writing and acting can sometimes be enough to lift potentially mediocre material to something that is worthwhile and satisfying. Imagine that.
Dustin Putman - DustinPutman.com
Feels contrived,rather than organic. It's like a cynical attempt to make movie version of a downbeat Bruce Springsteen song.
Marshall Fine - Hollywood & Fine
[H]onest, tough... There's an intensity, an emotional edge-of-the-seatness here that overshadows the [Danish] original...
MaryAnn Johanson - Flick Filosopher
Brothers is a collection of strong moments that don't add up to anything. The movie is all build-up.
Rene Rodriguez - Miami Herald
We're supposed to creep up to the idea that war can steal more from a person than life and limb. That can't be conveyed in a few simple scenes of kitchen histrionics.
Joshua Rothkopf - Time Out New York
This intense story of family conflict is powerful and gripping, an absolutely mesmerizing motion picture experience.
Pete Hammond - Boxoffice Magazine
Brothers is that rare animal, a US remake of a fine foreign language film which works on both a creative and thematic level in its conversion to an American setting.
Mike Goodridge - Screen International
Sheridan's film is well acted, but what could have been a powerful drama about the impact of war turns into a middlebrow (allegorical) melodrama about brothers who are polar opposites.
Emanuel Levy - EmanuelLevy.Com