Critics are bestowing much brotherly affection on director Jim Sheridan's Brothers , starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobie Maguire and Natalie Portman but are stopping short of acclaiming it. Roger Ebert in the Chicago Sun Times awards it 3 stars and praises the performances, the direction, and the script. His principal reservation "It is too finished." A.O. Scott in the New York Times also reveals mixed sentiments about the movie, saying that it "lurches between moments of fine, subtle realism and more frequent instances of blunt, blocky overstatement." In the end his conclusion is the opposite of Ebert's "It has a vague, half-finished feeling," he writes. Claudia Puig in USA Today awards it faint praise when she calls the movie "thought-provoking." Virtually all the critics note that the film is a remake of an award-winning 2004 Danish film and several say that the earlier film was more potent. Peter Howell in the Toronto Star , although praising the actors, nevertheless warns "Anyone contemplating whether to see Jim Sheridan's domestic drama Brothers would be wise not to see its ... predecessor beforehand." And Lisa Kennedy comments in the Denver Post "The original was likened to a Greek tragedy. This reworking has enough tin-eared scenes to suggest a night of overheated theater." Yet the Washington Post 's Michael O'Sullivan, who also finds many faults with the production, nevertheless concludes, "Like most war movies these days, it ends on a note that's far from hopeful. But it's good, and wise, and it feels true. Meaning, it hurts."

04/12/2009