This is the original Danish version later remade for Hollywood, a version which lost the subtle nuances and became a lot more audience friendly.
Brothers is a psychodrama written and directed by Susanne Bier dealing with the changes that can happen within one person and then spread out to shatter the family dynamic, all resulting from post traumatic stress disorder resulting from seeing action in the army.
Michael and Jannik are the brothers of the title, one is a dedicated military type who always succeeds, always excels at everything, the other, Jannik recently released from Prison, a no good bum, in awe of his brother but jealous of living in his shadow. Michael’s standards are incredibly high and it has always been impossible for Jannik to live up to them, a situation reinforced by their patrician father who regards Jannick as the lowest form of life.
But everything changes when Michael is sent to Afghanistan for a second time and there he is shot down captured and pronounced dead to the world. When he eventually is returned, his time in captivity has change him into a terrifying figure, one that his wife and children now seem distant from, seeking solace in the arms of Jannik. Connie Nielsen shines here and throughout the movie as Michael’s wife, Sarah bringing a great dignity and inner strength to the role of the increasingly terrified mother. The familial tensions are skilfully allowed to increase and we get a real insight into how this one family is torn apart by forces outside their control. It’s as strong an anti war statement as any focussing on a very personal drama, bringing the crisis back from Afghanistan and right into the home
Nikolaj Lie Kass excels as Jannik also, with the kind of danger behind his eyes that would make you take a step back in real life and a really believable presence on screen as the kind of character who really has gone past caring. Also excellent in the initially straighter and less rewarding role of Michael is Ulrich Thomsen who then shows his acting skills as all of Michael’s pomp and pride are peeled away. It’s a great twist that Jannik is set up as being almost “the bad guy” only for it to become Michael as the story progresses and this is a film that keeps you on your seat, watching with a growing horror as the events inevitably play to their conclusion.
Director: Susanne Bier
Cast: Nikolaj Lie Kaas,Connie Nielsen,Ulrich Thomsen
Awards: Boston Independent Film Festival, Créteil International Women’s Film Festival, Hamburg Film Festival, Indianapolis International Film Festival, San Sebastián International Film Festival, Skip City International D-Cinema Festival, Sundance Film Festival, Zulu Awards, Cannes Film Festival, Bodil Awards, Robert Festival
Nominations: European Film Awards,Sundance Film Festival ,Bodil Awards,Robert Festival,San Sebastián International Film Festival