Tolstoy’s famous observation that all happy families are alike, but all unhappy families are unhappy in their own way is referenced in “Brothers,” when retired career Marine Hank Cahill (Sam Shepard, “The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford”) comments that every family has its own problems. His ne’er-do-well son Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal, “Rendition”) echoes his thought in a mumble, which ignites the older man’s constant rage, simmering below the surface.

The other son, Sam (Tobey Maguire, “Spider-Man 3″), also a Marine, is about to be deployed to Afghanistan, leaving at home a wife, Grace (Natalie Portman, “New York, I Love You”), and two young daughters, troubled Isabelle and perplexed Maggie (Bailee Madison, “Bridge to Terabithia,” and Taylor Geare, “Four Christmases”).

Tommy has just been released from prison, serving time for what we later learn was armed robbery. Hank thinks he’s a loser uncommitted to anything in life, including his own well-being.

Sam was the high school football star who married the cheerleader “” which Grace recognizes for the clich


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