“Orphan” / “Brothers”


Orphan and Brothers came out last year to better-than-average reviews.  I was intrigued, but being a cheap-ass, I refused to watch them in the theater. There’s a reason I’m reviewing classic movies at Examiner.com, and not the newest movies of the moment.  Throw in the fact that a sizable chunk of humanity is kinda dumb and terrible, ESPECIALLY in the dark, and my love for cheap entertainment has been greater than ever before!

Orphan stars Vera Farmiga and Peter “I Always Seem Bummed” Sarsgaard as a married couple struggling through recent emotional turmoil  See, Farmiga got all drunkified, and while she was sloshed, her daughter fell into an icy lake and lost her hearing.  (Way to go, Vera.)  As our tale begins, Farmiga has been sober for a year and going to therapy, so the messed-up couple decides “Everything’s fixed YAYYYY LET’S ADOPT!”  In hindsight, it appears the couple didn’t really think this through.

Farmiga and Sarsgaard adopt a Russian girl from a local convent. who wears flowing dresses and looks like a goth version of Little Bo Peep.  This does not concern them. The girl turns out to be a complete psychopath, and all kinds of bloody doin’s ensue.

I really liked Orphan.  It’s amazing how a film in any genre can be approved with some basic intelligence.  There’s some really strong acting, especially by Farmiga and Isabel Fuhrmann as The Evil Brat From Hell.  Sarsgaard’s character is sort of a dour goof throughout the film, but he has a scene with Fuhrmann near the end of the film that I thought was effectively disturbing.

Brothers is also well-acted, although I find myself forgetting large swaths of it with each passing minute.  Tobey Maguire and Jake Gyllenhaal play . . . wait for it . . . brothers.  Tobey’s going back to serve in Iraq at the same time Gyllenhaal is getting released from jail.  This handy plot contrivance allows us to cross-cut between Tobey being captured and going through a hellish ordeal as a prisoner of war, while Gyllenhaal . . . gets drunk and hangs.

Natalie Portman plays Maguire’s wife; at one point there’s some kind of sparkish thing with her and Gyllenhaal, but I didn’t really buy it for a second.  I found Gyllenhaal’s character really weak; I get that he’s an aimless dope, but the dramatic balance between his story and Maguire’s felt wonky.  The “brother” theme of this movie never really took off for me;  This is Maguire’s movie, ultimately, and the Gyllenhaal stuff simply isn’t as interesting.

Despite their familial titles, Orphan and Brothers both make a strong case that families tend to dissolve into an abyss of violent insanity.  AND IF YOU’VE SEEN MY FAMILY AT THANKSGIVING, YOU’D KNOW THAT’S TRUE HI YOOOOOO!  BOOYAH!  Crotch thrust. The End.

Orphan [Blu-ray]

Brothers [Blu-ray]


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s