Unimaginative ‘Brothers’ Fail to Capture Audience’s Fancy
It’s true in team sports. It’s true with rock bands. And often times it’s true with movies.
Sometimes, the whole winds up being less than the sum of its parts.
That appears to be the case with “The Brothers Grimm,” the latest effort from director Terry Gilliam (“Brazil,” “12 Monkeys”) who has a long history of making “out there” films. Nothing in “The Brothers Grimm” will do anything to quell that reputation, and that is both a positive and a negative.
The film is wonderfully crafted, with obvious attention paid to the quirky splendor of its 19th century setting. The actors– particularly Matt Damon and a barely recognizable Heath Ledger as the title brothers– as well as Lena Headey and Peter Stormare, deliver solid performances. And Gilliam’s off-the-wall sensibility is constantly, ceaselessly, (gratingly?) on display.
Damon and Ledger star as Wilhelm and Jacob Grimm, respectively, a pair of brothers who wander the German countryside offering to rid villages of the mythical witches and curses that haunt them. (It’s a scam, of course, but it pays well.) Their lives change when they are captured by General Delatomb (Jonathan Pryce) and his demented sidekick Cavaldi (Stormare) and are sent to the town of Marbaden to solve the mysterious disappearance of several young girls. The brothers wind up in the middle of a confounding fantasy that has them nearly convinced the supernatural really does exist. References to “Little Red Riding Hood,” “Hansel and Gretel,” “Rapunzel,” and other fairy tales ensue, and all the while the bookish Jacob scribbles away in his journal.
The film looks great, and it’s worth mentioning (again) that both Damon and Ledger are in fine form, throwing themselves into their roles with gusto. Among the supporting players, Stormare excels at bringing an unbridled edginess to his character that leaves you amused and a little afraid of him at the same time.
So, why isn’t this a glowing review?
“The Brothers Grimm” isn’t an awful movie. It’s not like it’s so bad it wouldn’t be worth a DVD rental. But it probably won’t make you laugh, or cry, or smile, or respond in any way. And that’s the real problem. Despite all it has going for it, the performances, the scenery, the unquestioned talent of Terry Gilliam, the film fails to engage its audience. As events unfold onscreen, there is no connection to the heart, the mind, or the imagination of the viewer.
In fact, when it was over, my wife and I turned to each other with nearly identical looks on our face, as if to say, “What in the heck was that?”
When I figure it out, I’ll let you know.
Rated PG-13, for violence, frightening sequences and brief suggestive material.