Two Brothers (2004 France)

deadly_mongooseFour paws good, two legs not so good…if you’re out to demonstrate that animals are better than people, then by all means, make ‘Two Brothers’ your prize exhibit. Just as the ‘Incredible Journey’ showed us decades beforehand, animals, when given the right elbow room, are simply fantastic when it comes to film. They have the power to transform minimal, routine story lines  into gripping, engaging and dazzling delights, simply by being themselves.

Two tiger cub siblings are divided from their mother, removed from the wild by separate parties of high-handed humans, grow up in different captive grounds and finally find themselves pitted against each other in the battle ring…okay, I’m sure we all know where this one’s going, sweet and warm-hearted as it is – it’s essentially little more than a variation on the story of Androcles and the Lion. Both protagonists are creatures of the wilderness.

Kumal and Sangha, the two big cats here, are certainly no exception to the custom. They’re expressive, appealing and a pleasure to watch in whatever stage of their growth – whether as wide-eyed, adorable cubs, or beautiful, majestic adults, they bring a real magic to the story that keeps it afloat and mesmerizing, and if, like me, you’re an avid animal lover, the odds are you’ll fall completely in love with these beasts and everything they stand for.

It’s refreshing to known that not every animal-orientated flick in the new millenium has to rely on smarmy human voice-overs and overdone special effects. ‘Two Brothers’ has enough trust in these tigers with their physical mannerisms alone, their muted composure, that makes them seem all the more innocent and vulnerable as a result. As far as the animals go, it’s neither too complex for kids or too childish for adults. All ages are free to enjoy.

vlcsnap-2011-08-03-04h28m52s192A lot less interesting are the endless human characters who continually step in to shape the structure of the story but, with their lacklustre dialogue and minimal development, totally pale when it comes to screen presence. And this is where all age groups, young and old alike, are liable to find boredom. The humans never amount too much more here than a parade of one-dimensional caricatures (the insensitive circus trainers, the cosmopolitan child, the ignorant game hunter, the pampered trophy wife, smug colonial rulers in pith helmets etc).

Guy Pearce bagged himself the most substantial role of the lot, being the only one who actually finds himself in something of a dilemma – growing unexpectedly attached to Kumal, the particular cub he personally abducted, which in turn does bring in a little emotional pay-off. It’s more interesting than Sangha’s simultaneous story, concerning his bonding with the young son of a local governor (which, on its own, doesn’t have a huge deal to distinguish it from any number of your generic ‘boy and his – insert species here – story’).

The scenes between the tigers themselves aren’t completely spotless – what probably should have ranked as the most powerful and gut-wrenching sequence in the film, the showdown in the arena, in practice actually feels very rushed and docile. Still, the good intentions in this one always shine and, in spite of the problems mentioned above (or possibly in some small way because of) the central message, that the true spirit of nature has the potential to always prevail above humanity’s short-sighted efforts to curb and control it, is still nicely delivered.

In addition to the lovable puddy tats and beautiful scenery, it has Stephen Warbeck’s enthralling score to do it justice. These three factors combine to produce a wonderful viewing experience when left to their own devices. The half-hearted humans and their token character arcs, which insist on barging in and disrupting this, ensure that ‘Two Brothers’ is no masterpiece, but it’s a perfectly satisfactory piece of family entertainment that’s not afraid to wear its heart upon its sleeve. It is very touching and emotionally moving. You may even cry.




  1. I totally forgot about this film! I remember watching this years ago and thoroughly enjoying it. Fantastic review, thanks for reminding me to rewatch this (the tigers look so gorgeous)! XD

    Liked by 1 person

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