Let me begin my review of Brothers by giving praise to the Danish film industry. Currently, no other nation on Earth exports, per capita, as many movies to the US as Denmark does. Indeed, while there might be more titles from France or Japan that get released here, the Danes could very well be the third top exporter, especially if you count Lars von Trier's English-language films. This is due in no small part to the buzz that Trier's "Dogme" movement generated; Brothers director Susanne Bier, in fact, presented her Dogme film, Open Hearts, just two years before releasing her Dogme-influenced Brothers.
Some critics have remarked on the similarity of the two films - both involving married women who start falling for the wrong guy - but as I missed Open Hearts, I can't speak to that. But I can say that Brothers has strong direction, fine performances (even though the Danish acting pool is so small that the same faces show up in every film), and some terrific music - but it doesn't add up to enough to recommend it.
The setup involves a career soldier who is whisked off to Afghanistan, reportedly dies in an accident, and winds up being held prisoner by Afghan warlords. Back in Denmark, his wife and children start growing closer to the soldier's ne'er-do-well brother. The wife's complicated relationship with the brother - which heads towards romance, but doesn't quite get there - is the best part of the film. The worst part is a plot twist with the soldier in Afghanistan that sets the stage for the emotionally intense second half of the film. It's a violent moment that comes out of nowhere and involves an act true to neither the main character nor the story. While Bier and her actors do their best, they can't make it - or its aftermath - work. But Brothers is still solid evidence that Danish cinema is still worth following.