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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

2-20-24 PDF
February 20, 2024
2-12-24 PDF
February 12, 2024


“Brothers” starring Toby Maguire, Jake Gyllenhaal, and Natalie Portman, is the dramatic tale of a family ravaged by war. Marine Capt. Sam Cahill (Maguire) is about to deploy for his second tour in Afghanistan at the same time his brother Tommy (Gyllenhaal) is being released from prison. The first layer of emotion and drama comes from the animosity between Tommy and his father as well as the general uneasiness the family, especially Sam’s wife Grace (Portman), feels around him initially.

When Sam is redeployed to Afghanistan he is taken prisoner by insurgents. He undergoes starvation and exposure to the elements, until he is eventually forced to make a horrific life or death decision that levels him terribly emotionally scared.

During Sam’s imprisonment his wife Grace was mistakenly informed that Sam has died. As a result Sam’s brother Tommy tries to fill the void of his absent brother and forms a loving bond with Grace and her daughters.

When Sam eventually returns he is distant, paranoid, and jealous of his brother’s relationship with his wife and daughters. He has severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which eventually leads to a mental breakdown.

Toby Maguire’s performance is excellent, he has a haunting presence on the screen. The way his eyes look always has you wondering what he’s up to and what is he going to do next. He plays unstable very well, and displays very human emotional outbursts.

The acting is good but the story doesn’t give much attention to the development of Capt Sam’s PTSD. Mostly it focuses on the relationship between Grace and Tommy. I would have liked to have seen more of Capt, Sam and his descent into madness, that way his actions would seem more like a desperate bid for survival, and less like a selfish and willful act of violence like some viewers may see it. This ambiguity has the potential to spark a heated debate amongst fellow moviegoers so be prepared.

The story also throws a curve ball at you because Tommy and Grace don’t sleep with each other as would be expected and this makes it hard to place your sympathy. If she slept with him then Sam’s jealousy and anger would seem well placed and more understandable, but since she didn’t you’re left simply feeling bad about the whole mess.

What really moves the story along is Toby Maguire’s portrayal of Capt Sam; his erratic behavior constantly keeps you on edge. It seems that anything could set him off at any moment. His eyes are either wide and shifting wildly from side to side or sullen, and lifeless.

When he speaks he takes people out of their element. Tommy will sit down next to him to have a normal conversation but his tone is so heavy it throws you off and makes you think about the mental instability of many vets returning from conflict zones.

This is a disturbing movie that will stick with you when you leave the theater. It made me wonder how often these sort of horrific events take place, and what is the real human cost of war.

About the Contributor
Jacob Aguiar served as the following positions for The Mass media the following years: News Editor: 2011-2012; Fall 2012 Leisure Editor: 2010-2011