Brothers at War

Brothers at War movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Documentary
Filmmaker Jake Rademacher embeds himself with four combat units, as he documents his brothers' experiences as soldiers in Iraq.
Starring: Jake Rademacher, Isaac Rademacher, Joseph Rademacher
Director: Jake Rademacher
Running time: 1:52

Editorial Review

The Iraq war has a cameo in "Brothers at War," a documentary shot mostly in combat zones with its scope trained squarely on its vain, loving, irritating, restless, impassioned, bonkers director Jake Rademacher, a civilian who rushes to the front lines to show his younger brothers (both soldiers) that he knows what it feels like to be in the Suck. Yes, there is sand and makeshift bombs and bullets and bleeding Iraqis, but that's all secondary to Rademacher's "Wow, look at me in this flak jacket!" experience.

But "Brothers at War" is actually a one-of-a-kind documentary about the disconnect between brothers -- filmed under extremely dangerous circumstances.

Jake always wanted to be a soldier but became an actor instead. Joe and Isaac both joined the Army, serving in the same unit, developing a strong bond with each other and the military. Intent on understanding his brothers and "the heart of the American soldier," Jake picks up a camera and jets to northern Iraq.

But rather than barrel toward the "heart of the American soldier," Jake moves along in his own quest for his brothers' acceptance. When the camera is not on him, the film makes for a nice slice of life from two fronts: the war and an American family that is responding to it in myriad, mysterious ways.

There are much better Iraq documentaries than this one, but "Brothers at War" distinguishes itself by peering out over the emotional chasm between soldiers and their families. That the film does not plunge into the chasm is mostly beside the point. Any cinematic perspective on the war adds something to the collective experience, even if that something is not nearly as moving, educational or revelatory as we'd like it to be.

-- Dan Zak (March 13, 2009)

Contains language and a brief war image.