An intimate portrait of modern heroism and the importance of family during turbulent times, Brothers at War tells the story of Jake Rademacher as he sets out to understand the experience, sacrifice, and motivation of his two brothers serving in Iraq. The film follows Jake's exploits as he risks everything - including his life - to tell his brothers' story and document the courage and integrity of the American soldier.
The remarkable documentary Brothers at War
begins with a simple premise: Jake Rademacher wants to understand the experience of his younger brothers Isaac and Joe, both serving in the American military in Iraq. What unfolds proves amazingly complex, fusing a troubled family history (another Rademacher brother died at home), wrenching interviews with wives and girlfriends left behind, and a startlingly unfiltered portrait of on-the-ground soldiers in the middle of a combat zone. Because the filmmaker is already part of these people's lives, he's able to capture a kind of emotional nakedness you don't often see; when Joe's girlfriend talks about how Joe's military service has changed him, a window opens into her life that's almost uncomfortably intimate. Because of his relationship to one of their comrades, the soldiers in Iraq accept Jake in a completely different way than they'd respond to a typical journalist. They don't present a manicured image; Jake films them talking about why they're there, how they treat girls, shooting people (one soldier describes nearly shooting a child who was carrying a toy gun), and watching The O.C.
Driven by sibling rivalry, Jake even puts himself in harm's way by going out on combat missions. Brothers at War
doesn't have an ideology. Soldiers in the field defend each other out of personal solidarity, not abstract ideas; the same impulse drives this movie forward. It's unlike any other war documentary and can't be recommended strongly enough. --Bret Fetzer