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on 29 May 2017
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on 17 February 2013
I love this film ,brilliant story and superbly acted. Do not pass this by
, a brilliant example of foreign Cinema
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 30 October 2016
Review contains spoilers

I have just found an interview with Susanne Bier (in the magazine 'Film' from the Danish Film Institute) in which she has this to say about her view of filmmaking:

"For me, film is about describing emotions. That's what the film medium can do. Film is not a philosophical medium - it's an emotional medium. But of course, it's important to deal with emotions in an intelligent way."

She certainly fulfils this intention in Brothers, a painful look at the most essential and defining subjects, love, and the survival instinct. It is very well made, but quite upsetting to watch, especially one scene. I'm not quite sure how good it is, in the end. The situation is that two brothers are shown at the beginning, one (Michael) meeting the other (Jannik) on his release from prison. Jannik was involved in an armed bank robbery, but turns out to be a decent guy in the present, just a bit chaotic. His brother is an army major, who quickly disappears to Afghanistan. While out there he kills a man in order to save himself, having been taken prisoner: a scene as hard to watch as any I have seen, I think. However, he had been shot down in a helicopter and the news has been given to his wife, Sarah, that he died in action. She and Jannik are drawn together in grief, and she has two young daughters, and he is already working on her house with some others. When Michael returns, he is wracked with guilt, and everyone has to adjust as if to a return from the dead.

The awful scene occurs about halfway through, so that it can be seen as a film in two halves, in this sense, and also in its equally divided attention between the brothers, with Sarah seen in relation to both. It also elides two themes which aren't really connected. The film is edgily shot using handheld cameras, even though there is often a blur at the corners of the image. It is also lyrical in the foregrounding of tender feelings, in line with what Bier says above. Right from the opening scene where Michael addresses his men who are all naked in the shower, there is a sense of intimacy that seems different from that of many male directors: an empathy with Sarah, perhaps, and a sense of the physicality of the men. She is beautiful, as is Jannik. Perhaps this unbalances the film, because their love is affecting and seems right, but it borrows from cinematic convention in that they both look so good. From the outset, there are problems with Michael, in spite of his being the blue-eyed boy in his parents' eyes, and the successful one in the eyes of the world. He is controlling, and lords it over Jannik before they even get back to the house from the prison, forcing him (Jannik) to slam on the handbrake and walk the rest of the way. By setting our sympathies more with Jannik, the film makes us feel it would have been better if Michael had flown on to Australia, perhaps, so that the potential lovers could have lived out their love and the daughters been far happier than they were with the father with his unmanageable baggage.

The other problem is the moral crux of the film. Perhaps it is impossible to know with any certainty how one would react in an extreme situation where one would either kill or be killed. Michael does the wrong thing and there is the feeling that he will never get over it - his life is destroyed from that moment. This is a tragedy, of course, but I wonder what the use is of this kind of questioning, implicitly of the viewer. It is very painful to watch his disintegration, but one can neither feel his action was really forgivable, nor that he can be condemned. We can only be thankful that we don't have to face such an abhorrent situation. It's a bit like the recent French film, Force Majeure, I believe - a man in an avalanche abandons his family to save himself. I haven't seen it because it seems to me like the most painful manipulation of the audience. It is the same here - some things are better not filmed, if nothing is gained by it. There is no insight into humanity offered by this kind of situation because it seems to me it is largely a matter of chance, and imponderable, whether one would do this or that. (The avalanche situation sounds less convincing than this one, in that I suspect most fathers would put their children first.)

So the film becomes this awful inquiry where in fact a love between two characters who are very appealing goes to waste. This is overloaded, really ... Much as I admire the ability to convey emotion, to dwell in ambiguity that Bier shows, and love the way she films Connie Nielsen and Nikolaj Lie Kaas in particular, I do question whether she has got the right take on either of these two strands. Danish cinema has focused a lot on subjects of the utmost pain in Dogme or Dogme-influenced films like Bier's and those of Lars von Trier, but it seems to me that the relentless emphasis on suffering is like taking life and deliberately smashing it to pieces, and somehow getting high on the experience.
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on 20 March 2017
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 October 2013
Very moving film takes seemingly familiar elements (two brothers in
love with the same woman, a Cain and Abel good brother/bad brother set
up) and makes it complicated, disturbing and sad.

Abetted by excellent performances all around, this Danish film tells of
a woman whose husband goes off to the Afghanistan War and is presumed
dead. She forms a bond with his previously" bad" brother who tries to
clean up his act for her and her children in the absence of his
brother... only to have the brother return home from war - having been
a prisoner - a deeply damaged man.

As in "Things We Lost In the Fire", Bier shows a knack for setting us
up to assume we know the roads a story will tread, only to take us
somewhere richer, more affecting and more deeply human. There are
flaws, but any film that quietly packs this kind of emotional punch
about the damage that war does, the way people can change, and the deep
messy-ness of families deserves to be seen.
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on 13 March 2011
Came across this movie after enjoying Connie Nielsen's strong, no-nonsense performances as a policewoman in Special Victims Unit and a military policewoman in Basic. Her character in Brothers is an ordinary, loving wife and mother who endures the agony of the reported death of her husband in Afghanistan and has to pick up the pieces for the sake of her children and grieving in-laws. Unlike in her previous roles where her strength comes from her badge, gun or military rank, in this film it is the love for her children and family which gives her the determination to carry on. Her portrayal of putting a brave face on grief is wonderfully subtle yet utterly convincing. The sub-plot of what actually happened to her husband in Afghanistan is equally heart-wrenching to watch (as well as a timely reminder that the Americans are not the only troops in Afghanistan!) He is a good man,a loving husband,son and father,a responsible soldier placed in a situation where the only way to survive is to carry out an unimaginably horrific act that goes against every aspect of his character. The consequences of the choice he is forced to make will change the lives of everybody in the film and the "what would you do in that situation" question haunted me long after the film was over. As well as fantastic acting and gripping plotlines, this film is beautifully shot - from Afghanistan sunsets and sand dunes to the Scandinavian designer chic of the family home in Denmark, a visual feast. Lovely movie on so many levels. Have no intention of ever watching the Hollywood remake - couldn't bear to see what they've done to it!
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on 5 November 2005
A brilliant piece of danish drama, who have somewhat of an underrated catalogue of great titles...
The difficulty with subtitled foreign film is the emotion, thought and story behind words can be lost in translation. The fine performance from a strong cast make sure this definately isn't the case with "Brothers". The raw emotions of lose, desperation, fear and anger are put forward so strongly that it doesn't matter if "Carlsberg" is the extent of your danish, not a shred of drama is lost.
The film moves at a tremendous pace, highlighting the true emotional destruction of war. The focus is taken off the action, and placed on to the families who lose a husband or a brother or a son, left to pick up the pieces, and on the damage done to a returning soldier, and his downward spiral as he survives capture, but at the price of his mind and spirit. There's also a particularly strong scene showing how far a man will go for love and survival.
Take a chance on a Danish great, you won't regret it...
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on 16 December 2012
This Danish film really got to me and I found it superior to the previous version I had seen. The acting was sincere and the whole film had a ring of truth to it. If you like films about returning from war, then I would recommend this one.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 20 March 2010
This is another in a long line of excellent Danish movies of the past 20 years or so. As opposed to most others, the comical element is completely missing from this one and the story focuses on how a family deals with the loss of a loved one (supposedly KIA in Afghanistan) and how even modern armies tend not to be fully capable of mitigating the psychological pressures / breakdowns of people facing or being faced with death and killing.

As opposed to many movies emerging as a result of the current Iraq and Afghanistan wars, here the focus is firmly on the goings on back in Denmark, with only small glimpses being accorded of Ulrich Thomsen's capture and subsequent release in Afghanistan.

After his supposed death is announced there are two distinct phases to the movie, the first one is about how his wife, children, parents, and wayward brother handle the loss, which brings about his brother both getting much more serious and close to Michael's wife (Connie Nielsen). Subsequently, after Michael is freed and returns, there is a second distinct phase to the movie about primarily how he is trying to get to grips with what happened / what he was forced to do to survive capture.

The movie is excellent both in how the story is handled, as well as for the general acting (almost everyone, including the children, delivering outstanding performances). The only downside as far as acting goes is Connie Nielsen playing the wife. While her role is extremely well developed, she just largely lacks the expressive power to bring the supposed emotions across - she more or less constantly looks like she is having a pretty good time and as if she's completely unfazed - something that belies both how character seems to be intended and her part in the dialogues.

While the movie does not quite reach the standard set by Festen [DVD] [1999] or The Idiots [1999] [DVD], this is another excellent Danish drama and well worth watching, especially for the portrayal of war from the other, home front perspective. Finally, if the psychological drama behind what Michael is experiencing in the latter part of the movie is of interest, I would also warmly recommend reading On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society, which does an excellent job of summarizing the mechanisms and psychological coping procedures behind warfare.
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on 2 February 2016
Brødre .... en film af Susanne Bier.

+++ As always with me: no content information - no SPOILERs:

the first movie I saw from probably the world's best female director Susanne Bier, was at that time a certain "After the Wedding" (ATW) released in the year of 2006.
Actually, the (German-)Anti--Marketing-Cover (showing a blurred Mads Mikkelsen) in the local library obviously was far from the blockbuster-kind. Everything smelled like extreme Dogma-film, which are often very hard to watch.

But this film was just brilliant. I would call him a dogma-light - and this kind of film, typically from Denmark, is exactly my cup of tea. And "Brothers" has similarities to ATW in style.

The heart-rending and really sad story is told without any cheesy kitsch and totally moved me. All characters act completely credible and transparently and one suspects, that external factors like fate and chance, might turn the constellations of relationships into a human tragedy.
Just fantastic how the honest script and also the direction merge the gear wheels of the plot together!!!
The actors play all just wonderful and believable - or rather they don't seem to act but to really live their respective parts!!! - so I imagined myself almost watching a documentary - a greater compliment, I just cannot make. Actually I just couldn't believe, how credible and moving esp. the 3 main characters are portrayed by Connie Nielsen, Ulrich Thomsen and Klaas.
Again, Denmark delivers worldclass.
The camera is also extremely close and personal with the feelings of the characters - very often hands, lips and eyes in close-up. Simply breathtaking, I must confess ....and because all actors appear to be so believably "human", I really cared very much about them.

But clearly:
Screenplay - Anders Thomas Jensen and Director - Susanne Bier are a stellar constellation, enabling little Denmark to compete with the best of the best from the mighty United States. More than 5 years ago now, I became a huge fan of them both.
And Bier doesn't deliver any "easy" answers (or a happy ending) - because there just aren't any. Her totally honest directional style actually reminds me of Alejandro Inarritu (my fav. male director).

Above all, this "Brødre - Brothers" so is far superior to the American remake of Jim Sheridan (who also is a good director).
For a wider audience, this 2009-remake is just prone to too many compromises and softens the harsh reality of the sady-sad Story too much. The producers of the remake 2009 obviously wanted to spare the moviegoer all 100% of the brute and shocking yet inevitable aspects of the story.

to me - besides ATW - the strongest Susanne Bier film, even better than the also strong "Hævnen - in a Better World '(2010) and her first US film" Things We Lost in the Fire "(2007) starring Halle Berry and Benicio Del Toro.

cheers, >>>>> the notwster - Rating = 95% (A MASTERPIECE)
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