Brothers (Robert Eggers, 2015, USA)

Brothers is 2015 short by Robert Eggers. It's a Cain and Abel story set in the directors' native New Hampshire. It's not a student film, but rather a film Eggers made to get financing for his debut feature The Witch. Those familiar with The Witch will note a similar aesthetic style, including the film's font, as well as the wooded New England setting. The film opens with the two titular brothers slapping each other - this kind of raw aggression between them sets the tone for the rest of the film's 10 minutes.

The period of the film is not entirely clear, although the film's rural setting gives the proceedings something of a timeless quality. The boys are living with their grandma, who doles out intense punishment to the boys. The two boys go out hunting with their rifles in the woods. Eggers captures the forest setting with the same eeriness that he did in The Witch. Shots of the forest ceiling give the film the quality of an omniscient narrator proceeding over the events - lending a Biblical quality to the film's story.

Taking target practice on an abandoned teddy bear, another conflict between the brothers ensues, this time leading to a deadly confrontation. We know from the film's beginning where this is all leading, so this prevents some of the necessary tension from developing in the film's showdown. The performances and writing are very heavy-handed, which also drags the film to a lesser level than what we are accustomed to seeing with Eggers. Still, the film's finale is powerful when we do see it happen, and presages what we will see in the family tensions that appear throughout The Northman. The rivalry between brothers resurfaces in a much more significant way in Eggers' The Northman - arguably the director's masterpiece.



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