Over the course of a decade, Norwegian filmmaker Aslaug Holm turns the camera onto her two young sons, Markus and Lukas. The film documents the children growing up, their hopes and fears and, perhaps most tellingly, the hopes and fears of their mother, the woman behind the camera.
Before she became a mother, Aslaug Holm used to travel the world filming events that happened to other people. Not long after her oldest child was born however, she realised that the most interesting thing was happening within her own home, and turned the camera inward. For more than a decade, Holm filmed her children as they played, fought, learned and grew, and their hopes, beliefs and fears grew with them.
Although the film may have started life as a document of how adorable her children were, Holm soon changed the idea of the story into one of childhood and the events we remember vs the ones we forget. The film feels like Boyhood, if Boyhood were a documentary, and follows the children as they go from loving the idea of being filmed to being tired of it, to not understanding the reasons for the film being made to realisation, and the smaller loves of their lives change; football, music, girls…
Markus and Lukas are obviously comfortable with being on camera, as it does not seem to phase them that there is someone documenting their every move. The conversations between the boys seem frank and unrehearsed, and their observations about life and death are charming, as they spout their matter of fact observations in the way that only children can.
Although it seems that the point of the film is to watch small children grow into teenagers and eventually turn their attention toward leaving home, there is something else at play in Brothers; the role of their mother. The thought occurs while watching the film, whether Holm was part of their lives or always removed from it through her being hidden behind a camera. This is a tough question to answer since the film carefully focuses on the relationship between the two boys, but it throws an interesting light onto the film, as does the question that arises at the end of the film; why can’t Holm find an ending? Does ending mean finally having to let her children go? As Holm herself says; finding an ending “…Would mean the east days were gone”.
In all, Brothers is a fascinating look at the frank and honest relationship between two siblings, but underneath the observation and the pondering over which events truly shape us – the ones we remember or the ones we forget – is the examination of motherhood, endings and letting go. A quietly stunning, profound and engaging film.