Brothers (15)

Written by Anders Thomas Jensen and Susanne Bier, Directed by Susanne Bier
Screening at FACT from 20th-26th May 2005

Reviewed by Adam Ford

It took me quite a while to work out precisely what I didn't like about this film. The direction was assured, building the tension with increasingly strong hints that things were about to go wrong. The internal family rivalries simmered nicely, before being brought to the boil in an explosive release of anger and resentment. All of the main actors were excellent in their own way. Unfortunately there seemed to be absolutely no point to the whole exercise.

The lives of the two brothers took quite different paths. One (played by Nikolaj Lie Kaas) is a bit of a layabout and gets in to trouble quite a lot. He has a beard, wears a lot of black and his dad is very disappointed in him. The other (played by Ulrich Thomsen) is apparently 'decent' and 'respectable'. After all, he has a sensible blond haircut and wears a Danish Army Major’s uniform. He's going over to Afghanistan to kill bad guys (and only bad guys), so his dad is very proud. When golden boy's helicopter is shot down, he and his crew are presumed dead. Whilst the family mourn, the bad boy gradually discovers the joys provided by his brother's beautiful wife (Connie Nielsen) and kids. So he becomes a good boy. But the first good boy isn't really dead, so he comes home and gets really jealous and becomes a bad boy.

It's not a terrible story, it's just a really obvious one. It's airport fiction and nothing more, because Bier's half-hearted attempts at mysticism don't lift it any higher. If this was an ITV drama then it would be a good one, but I wouldn't pay to see it in a cinema.

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