Brothers At War -- Film Review

Benjamin Walker
Jason Kempin/Getty Images

NEW YORK - OCTOBER 13:  Actor Benjamin Walker attends the "Bloody Bloody Jackson" opening night after party at Brasserie 8 1/2 on October 13, 2010 in New York City.

Most of the Iraq War-themed documentaries that have appeared thus far have been decidedly anti-war in their approach, which makes "Brothers at War" an anomaly. Although not taking any overt political stance, Jake Rademacher's portrait of ordinary soldiers is so unabashedly gung-ho that it will be most widely embraced by right-wingers who follow the mantra of "Support the Troops." Co-executive produced by actor Gary Sinise, the film is currently receiving a limited national release.

Rademacher's sympathies stem naturally, since two of his brothers served in the war and he himself applied to West Point, only to be disqualified because of poor eyesight. His back-up plan, naturally, was to attend film school.

He later made two journeys to the war-torn region, embedding himself with the troops -- who amusingly nicknamed him "Hollywood" -- and experiencing significant personal risk along the way.

The result is an undeniably evocative and detailed portrait that lives up to the literal and figurative meanings of its title. While there has been no shortage of Iraq War footage in recent years, the filmmaker's obviously close ties with his subjects result in some gripping footage and pointed commentary.

Less effective are his attempts to examine the psychology of the fighting man, here personified by the increasing emotional distance between the filmmaker and his military siblings.

Also overly familiar, sadly, are the interviews conducted with various family members back home as they bravely attempt to keep up their spirits while their loved ones face mortal danger on a daily basis.

Production: Metanoia Films (Samuel Goldwyn Films)
Director: Jake Rademacher
Producers: Jake Rademacher, Norman S. Powell
Executive producers: David Scantling, Gary Sinise
Directors of photography: Conor Colwell, Marc Miller
Editors: Robert DeMaio, Jack Tucker
Music: Lee Holdridge
Rated R, 110 minutes