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Director Jim Sheridan with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire on the set of “Brothers”

Jim Sheridan’s newest film ‘Brothers’ wrenchingly powerful

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Director Jim Sheridan with Jake Gyllenhaal and Tobey Maguire on the set of “Brothers”

“In my own family what happened was that my brother died. We had a lodging house and at the moment of death all the neighbors were coming in and my dad was crying with them, but not with my ma,” recalls Sheridan.

“I was annoyed with him about that; I felt that that he was breaking up the nuclear family. From that and other things I seem to have developed this need to put the family back together.”

Gyllenhaal admits that he was very challenged by the script (“Brothers” is a remake of the Danish language film “Brodre,” this time directed by an Irishman).

“Just coming from Ireland it was interesting how Jim thought my character would act compared to my own American take,” Gyllenhaal says. “There’s a moment in the film when Natalie’s character tells mine that my brother is dead, and Jim suggested I fall on the ground and make snow angels. I said to him very quietly I don’t know if an American would react like that.”

For Maguire, the decision to get involved in “Brothers” was down to the strength of the script and the talent involved.

“I wanted to do a film that shines a light on a subject that we don’t really talk enough about,” he says.

“My character is all buttoned up and quiet about his war experiences. I think he doesn’t relate that well to his wife and children, and I think he’s living a facsimile of a life. He’s much more at home with his military family and much more comfortable at war. And it’s killing him.”

What happens to Maguire’s character puts him in such crisis that it becomes a live or die gamble. It also makes “Brothers” one of the most searing films about war and its consequences to have come along in years. With its tension and its stellar cast it is also likely to avoid the lack of interest shown to other recent films that address the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

“It definitely felt like it was about family to me, whether you define it to be about blood relatives or your husband, your battalion or your family,” says Portman. “It’s about what you sacrifice in order to protect that family.

“I remember Jim describing it to me as a woman’s fantasy film. I have Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal in love with me and I want both of them. For that reason and many more it was a terrific experience making it.”

“Brothers” opens nationwide on December 4.

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