My girlfriend (Heidi) had a take on Brothers unmatched by any I’ve read. Needless to say, if you haven’t seen the movie. See it.
“…Brothers was a movie i was not expecting at all. Not that i was expecting a movie full of feel-good dialogue and a fairy tale ending but the gritty reality of human experience was intensely thrown into my face. The movie begged me to look at a complexity of characterization I’m not entirely sure i was ready for.
As i was watching i kept thinking i knew what was going to happen. Typical story of a political bashing on the ugliness of war and the irrelevance of marriage in our society today. A “higher calling” by deconstructing traditional institutions and values. I could not have been more wrong. At every turn, every scene change, every climax, I found myself trying to evaluate the purpose of the story.
I kept thinking okay this is going to be about war. I was wrong. This is going to be about destroying the perfect marriage. I was wrong. This is going to be about the false redemption and eventual fall of the rebel brother. I was wrong. This is going to be about how the sins of the father are visited on the sons. I was wrong. This is going to be about children being affected by the whims of their parents. I was wrong. what then, could this movie, so in my face, so painful, so raw have been about?
I was then brought to two specific scenes. The first was the ending scene: a picnic table in the dead of winter. A place where truth was finally communicated, where hope was finally allowed to show a glimmer of a spark. It was perfect. Just a picnic table — a symbol of carefree happiness, the American dream, the perfect life — right in the dead of bleak winter — a symbol of cold, death, and evil. the other scene i thought about was at the very beginning when the family is at the dinner table. The subject of war was being discussed and uncle Tommy asks the youngest daughter who exactly were the bad guys daddy was fighting. The scene goes on with the older daughter answering with humor but the question he asked, i realized, was crucial to the movie’s development and message.
After thinking about this movie for several days with those scenes running over and over in my mind, i finally came to the conclusion that the movie was centered around portraying the deep complexity of humanity. When dealing with people, a simple understanding of right and wrong, black and white does not apply. Each human in the move was capable of great good and great evil in varying degrees. Every time i identified with the “good” guy, they would do something i hated or made me sick. Not a soul in the movie was innocent. Not even the little girls. At the end of the day, however, each received grace. GRACE was the theme. It was the name of the mother. It was tattooed over daddy’s chest. It was granted to each character in their darkest moment.
Humanity is complex. Each person a deep cavern incapable of comprehension. Necessary for life, necessary for “happiness” … is grace. Consequences will be paid, but grace must be given. Unselfish, unconditional grace.
— Heidi Myers