Brothers Michael (Ulrich Thomsen) and Jannik (Nicolaj Lie Kaas) are as different as chalk and cheese. Not only do they look different, but their lifestyles are worlds apart. Michael is the favoured son, an army sergeant and devoted family man to wife Sarah (Connie Nielsen) and his two daughters. Jannik, the younger brother, has just been released from prison, a renegade and petty criminal, now intruding into Michael's family life. When Michael is sent to Afghanistan, he is captured and reported missing in action, believed killed, Jannik comforts Sarah, but this leads to extreme family tensions.
Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Susanne Bier and Anders Thomas Jensen previously collaborated on the memorable and moving drama, Open Hearts, and their fruitful association continues here in a film that is at once tender and frightening. The screenplay explores emotions under intense pressure, although it's hard to talk about the details without revealing some of the elements that are best left to discover in the viewing.
Anders Thomas Jensen is one of my favourite writers for the screen, whether embroiled in black comedy like Wilbur Wants to Kill Himself or The Green Butchers, or the offbeat Stealing Rembrandt and the aforementioned drama about relationships, Open Hearts. Here, he explores people at their most destabilised in a powerful piece of writing that is accessible and credible.
Superb performances decorate this multi-award winning drama (even the children are sensational), directed with sensitivity and power in equal measure by Bier, who always turns the camera into an instrument of exploration into the human soul. Connie Nielsen, memorable from Gladiator, is working in her native tongue here and displays great vulnerability, based on strength of character. Ulrich Thomsen, always excellent in a variety of roles, delivers a complex characterisation as the conflicted brother, whose experiences have had a deep impact on him, while Nicolaj Lie Kaas shows how a character can develop seamlessly from antipathetic to empathetic by virtue of his actions.
Always naturalistic, almost Dogme-like without the downsides, Brothers is gripping cinema from two of Denmark's most talented filmmakers and a great cast.
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CAST: Connie Nielsen, Ulrich Thomsen, Nikolaj Lie Kaas, Sarah Juel Werner, Rebecca Løgstrup, Bent Mejding
PRODUCER: Peter Aalbæk Jensen, Sisse Graum Olsen
DIRECTOR: Susanne Bier
SCRIPT: Anders Thomas Jensen (story by Susanne Bier)
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Morten Søborg
EDITOR: Pernille Bech Christensen, Adam Nielsen
MUSIC: Johan Söderqvist
PRODUCTION DESIGN: Viggo Bentzon
RUNNING TIME: 117 minutes
AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Arkles Entertainment
AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: Canberra: May 11, Sydney & Melbourne: July 13, 2006