Two Brothers is like a children’s book come to life, and it’s this summer’s “family film” to beat. Think of Jean-Jacques Annaud’s picture as the earnest antidote to Shrek 2‘s calculated cynicism, the former being direct, focused, and primal where the latter is scattershot and superficial. Annaud is no great artist; his technique is crude—especially noticeable here due to the schizoid mix of media (both film and high-definition video vie for attention like grappling WWF wrestlers)—and his disinterest in human characters, though somewhat appropriate to the broad-brushstroke mise en scène, borders on off-putting misanthropy, but he’s wisely picked a subject that allows him to engage his non-human interests to grand effect. As in his earlier film The Bear, Annaud focuses the majority of Two Brothers on animals. The protagonists are the tigers Sangha and Kumal, whom Annaud follows as the two are forcefully separated—a la Bambi and Empire of the Sun—by encroaching human hunters. There is a distinct, and deserved, “Awwwww!” factor in Sangha and Kumal’s every scene, though they are far from mere cats pimping cuteness for sentimental sighs. Annaud eschews the digital anthropomorphizing of the near-perfect Babe films, guiding his animal actors toward emotionally resonant silent performances, his camera gazing into their eyes with profound spiritual inquiry. Annaud finds poetry and soul in these animals’ every movement, an accomplishment to be experienced and applauded in this inexplicable season of the ogre.
- Jean-Jacques Annaud
- Jean-Jacques Annaud, Alain Godard
- Sangha, Kumal, Guy Pearce, Jean-Claude Dreyfus, Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu, Freddie Highmore, Oanh Nguyen, Moussa Masskri, Vincent Scarito
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