It's a very difficult thing to review a film when you're romantically involved with the female lead. Brothers has produced for me, such a quandary. While, yes, I'm not strictly dating Natalie Portman and she rarely returns the e-mails that I bounce to every account I can think of (firstname.lastname@example.org /natalieshizzle@yahoo/ georgelucascantwrite email@example.com) she will one day be my future wife, so here lies bias. I even own Where the Heart is and Anywhere But Here on DVD but don't tell anyone.
If for some reason you don't think that God was showing off when he made her then there isn't much else to persuade you to take a punt on Brothers.
The main problem with Brothers is that the story is all a little Pearl Harbour. And as everyone knows, even being a little Pearl Harbour is tantamount to being a little bit infested with cat AIDs.
When good son Sam (Tobey Maguire) goes M.I.A. fighting the beardy people of Afghanistan, it's up to black sheep of the family, Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal), to look after his wife and kids back home. Considering the wife is played by Natalie Portman, Tommy quickly starts to get rumblings in his trouser departments. As does Natalie, for Jake somewhat resembles a male version of her. In other words, he's hot.
It seems (and is) pretty trite of me to carry on about the good looks of the lead characters but ultimately this is one of the reasons why Brothers doesn't quite work. Jake, Natalie and Tobey are all only a whisker older than me and yet, in this movie, they've got houses and partners and kids and responsibilities.
Not that they can't all play 'ugly' or 'normal'. Jake does in Jarhead, Tobey in Wonder Boys, Natalie in Goya's Ghost to name but a few. But Jim Sheridan (the director of the sublime In America) seems to think he's dealing with actors rather than star/actors. What price a Samantha Morton or Paddy Considine in this? We may be watching a different film.
It has its moments and never feels either over-played or over-long but ultimately it's less than the sum of its parts. Like a sibling you only visit because you have to.