‘Brothers’ Blends Truth and Fiction with Remarkable Results

By  · Published on February 8th, 2017

Short of the Day

A unique fictive narrative with documentary components.

Today’s pick is pretty remarkable in terms of its narrative construction. What you’ve got in Brothers is a film that masterfully walks a tightrope between documentary and fiction, blurring their variations into a sharper truth. It comes from writer-director Zachary Fuhrer, an assistant editor who was challenged by his colleagues, editor Jim Helton and director Derek Cianfrance (both of The Light Between Oceans, on which Fuhrer also worked) to undertake the feat and did so by using a real family and their friends in mostly improvisational scenarios that Fuhrer told Digg he directed by having the children play certain games that led to certain circumstances. I’m dancing around the actual storyline because how Brothers unfurls is its greatest strength, it is as unpredictable as real life, as casually-causal and as relentlessly-changing.

It is also graceful in its visual composition, elegant and almost Malick-ian in the way it doesn’t manipulate life as much as it sets it in motion then steps back to capture its natural beauty, even in darker spots.

Bottom line, what Fuhrer set out to accomplish, he did so. Brothers is a daunting experiment that pulls off astonishing results, and all this behind-the-scenes stuff aside, it’s also a taut family drama, intimate and actual and of the world we live in thus utterly relatable. And not for nothing, but little Liam Thomsen gives a performance that all child-actors would envy, and the kid’s never had a lesson; he’s a pure, natural talent, which is also a pretty apt way to describe the film overall: pure, natural, and brimming with talent.

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