Saturday movie review: Brothers... Plus, a one-month free Sundance Now freebie

Documenting the daily doings of beloved children is nothing unusual. Thousands (hundreds of thousands?) mommy — and grandma — bloggers across the globe do exactly that, day in and day out, sharing stories and such on their little sweeties.

Documenting the very same on film day in and day out — for decades — is unusual. Is unique. Is exactly what Norwegian director and cinematographer Aslaug Holm did in her documentary BROTHERS. In doing so, she confirmed that a (moving) picture is indeed worth 1,000 words. And then some.

brothers documentary 

Holm set out making the ultimate home movie of her two young sons, Markus and Lukas, more than a decade ago. She kept the camera rolling for eight years. Day in, day out Holm captured the myriad moments that make up childhood. The moments large and small of her beloved boys.

Between bits on the boys doing their homework, practicing football (soccer), tussling with one another and reflecting on grand life concepts — God, what it feels like being the big brother or little brother, life goals and dreams — Holm deftly adds memories of her own childhood, her family history, her husband's family and more.

The collection of memories of old along with the memories in the making create a compelling look at a typical family living typical days in typical ways, an intimate portrait that resonates with viewers and serves as a poignant reminder of those little moments that pass far too quickly, are often forgotten.

Brothers (2015) - Trailer from LevelK on Vimeo.

I was intrigued by the manner in which the boys simply did what boys do with no regard for the camera that followed them throughout their days. They made trouble at school (five-year-old Lukas, who resisted school rules, in particular). They swore like sailors. They argued with each other. They also loved one another, laughed together, and expressed their deepest thoughts and dreams and goals without reservation. The brothers loved their family, loved life and delighted in all it offered. (Except homework. And school. Like many boys.)

Lukas, the younger brother, proved quite the philosopher and regularly mentioned deep thoughts one wouldn't expect from a youngster. Then he'd turn right around and be very much a young boy, messing in mud puddles with his soccer mates rather than paying attention to the game as he was supposed to. So very much like one of my grandsons. All boy in that respect.

Markus, the eldest, was committed to football, hoped to play with the pros when he got older. As he reached adolescence, he dreamed of being like Billy Jo Armstrong of the band Green Day. He played guitar in a garage band with buddies. He even pierced an ear, dyed his hair in punk rock style — despite his dad's displeasure with both.

BROTHERS made for a special coming-of-age story with refreshingly real boys. What a pleasure to watch them mature, change, yet stay true to themselves despite Mom's forever filming — which eventually seemed an obsession. To the boys as well as to Mom herself.

Holm admittedly was unsure when she felt enough was enough, that she'd captured and compiled the essence of her boys. That question of how far she'd go, how long she'd go, was part of kept me watching. That and the devilish streak displayed by little Lukas, the sweetness of Markus as he met girls, grew into himself... and eventually, unequivocally tired of Mom capturing it all on film.

BROTHERS, released in 2015, was nominated for several film festival awards, winning for Best Documentary and Best Direction in Norway's 2015 Amanda Awards as well as Best Documentary at the 2016 Hot Docs Canadian International Documentary Festival.

BROTHERS (not rated) can be seen exclusively on the Sundance Now streaming service. Which is how I watched it. Which is where the "freebie" part of this post comes in...

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Disclosure: I watched this film and others free courtesy Sundance Now; all opinions are my own.