Rated 3.0

Tobey Maguire plays an upright Marine presumed dead in Afghanistan, leaving his wife, played by Natalie Portman, to be looked after by his delinquent kid brother, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. Then the plot thickens. This being adapted from a recent Danish film, and co-starring Sam Shepard (as the young men’s favorite-playing father), might encourage the expectation of something more poetic and philosophical than haunted Hollywood soap opera. No such luck. The director is Jim Sheridan, also of In the Name of the Father and Some Mother’s Son, so at least the family dynamics come naturally. Gyllenhaal has nice moments of drunken desperation and amends-making; Maguire acts his heart out, or at least bugs his eyes out, during imperative breakdown scenes; Portman sharpens the blade of her beauty into recognizable signifiers of maternal inclination and grief; and Shepard anchors the movie. If only he’d also written the script instead of David Benoiff, fresh (stale) from X Men Origins: Wolverine with the dull idea that fraternal obligation is just automatically, grandly dramatic.