Portman, Maguire and Gyllenhaal aren’t always known for their range as actors, and despite their best efforts, their boyish looks have always betrayed them in the past. In Brothers, the trio joins hands to escape from the typecast pigeonhole and come out victorious at the end.

The film is not about the recent war in Afghanistan. As its title suggests, Brothers is family drama with Cain-and-Abel siblings at its centre. Sam Cahill (Maguire) is a Marine captain who is married to the beautiful Grace (Portman), with whom he has two daughters. Tommy Cahill (Gyllenhaal) just came out of prison, and although he loves his brother, he can’t adjust to living in his shadow. Sam goes back to Afghanistan and dies serving his country. Tommy hesitantly steps up and supports his deceased brother’s family, and in doing so, he becomes closer to his brother’s widow.

Brothers is a remake of a 2004 Danish film by the same name. Director Sheridan’s talent lies in bringing out the subtleties and humanity of ordinary tales without letting them escalade to melodrama. He chooses the right moments to capture, he gets close to his characters, and he shows skill at directing children. Brothers has all the makings of a quality Sheridan film.

The actors’ rock-solid performances may distract you from Brothers script shortcomings. It’s remarkable how all the leads exercise restraint. Given the nature of the source material, this could have easily played like an endless best-actor-montage at the Oscar; filled with speeches, tears and moments spent staring into an emotional abyss. However, all the leads play their parts with veteran skill. On the supporting side, Shepard’s turn as the father is truly touching. You can feel the consequences of his favouritism while raising the brothers; he delivers every line, expression and shudder with insightful weight.

However, the film’s weaknesses come to haunt it at the end. Brothers did a great job of breathing realism into the characters and story; but the film is staged more like a play, and by the end the plot has nowhere to go but to a theatrical climax. It doesn’t ruin the experience; but it might remind you that you’re watching a dramatization of life, not a reflection of it.

Brothers is one step away from being a great film, and it will remind you that millions of dollars spent on CGI can never recreate humanity.