Saturday, May 29, 2010

Netflix Diary: Brothers

Going to completely parrot Mr. Manley's Netflix Diary meme and generate some blog posts from my incessant moving watching.

If you've seen the trailer, you know what's up with this film. Good son Toby Maguire goes off to war leaving behind wife Natalie Portman. His perpetual screw-up brother (Jake Gyllenhaal) starts to nose in on Portman after Maguire's chopper is shot down in Afghanistan and he's presumed dead... or is he?!?!? It's all melodrama that I could take or leave at the end of the day. Certainly more smartly observed melodrama than one might expect, but melodrama nonetheless.

What really surprised me was the difference in quality in Maguire and Gyllenhaal's performances. I've always thought of them (and countless other actors of their generation) as basically interchangeable. But even though he had much less to work with here, I thought Gyllenhaal absolutely smoked Maguire. His performance was pleasantly understated and he communicated a lot while doing very little. Maguire's role, on the other hand, called for a certain gravitas that he just wasn't able to pull off. You can tell that Maguire just doesn't have it in him while Gyllenhaal, much to my surprise, does.

Still, they're neither of them Mare Winningham.

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