BROTHERS (Susanne Bier, 2004)

There are two things I like about Brødre: it shows the devastating impact on himself and family when a war captive returns home; Ulrich Thomsen’s excellent performance as this Danish Army officer, Michael Lundberg. Nearly everything else about Susanne Bier’s film is ridiculous.
     At the beginning, before going to Afghanistan on a peacekeeping mission, Michael drives his younger brother home from prison, where he served three years for robbing a bank and assaulting a teller. At film’s end Michael himself is in prison for assaulting his wife and pulling a gun on a police officer. In between, with reference to his cell-mate, he is commanded by a Taliban, “Kill him, if you want to live.” Michael resists doing this, then does it; and because the pipe he is handed isn’t lead, the act is harrowingly long in reaching its goal. Meanwhile, screw-up Jannik has reversed his irresponsibility by taking care of sister-in-law Sarah (Connie Nielsen, insufferable) and nieces. Back home, Michael wrongly suspects wife and brother of having had sex. After all, what isn’t possible if a peacekeeper can turn killer?
     The schematic script by Anders Thomas Jensen is bedecked in soap opera. “Do you know what I did to be with you again!” a furious Michael hurls at Sarah, who cannot possibly know because Michael refuses to open up and tell anyone.
     The fraternal psychology is basic insight 101: bad kid brother is reacting against the respect showered on responsible older brother, who, it turns out, relies more than is initially apparent on his kid brother’s bad example to maintain his own fragile image of responsibility.
     Why is M.I.A. Michael’s family told he is dead after his helicopter crashes? How come the cell-mate’s toenails are perfectly trim after he has been imprisoned for three months?

B(U)Y THE BOOK

MY BOOK, A Short Chronology of World Cinema, IS CURRENTLY AVAILABLE FROM THE SANDS FILMS CINEMA CLUB IN LONDON. USING EITHER OF THE LINKS BELOW, ACCESS THE ADVERTISEMENT FOR THIS BOOK, FROM WHICH YOU CAN ORDER ONE OR MORE COPIES OF IT. THANKS.

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