Brothers McMullen [1995]

Genre: Comedy, Drama, Romance
Edward Burns's debut film as an actor-director makes a virtue of its limited budget in the same way John Sayles's The Return of the Secaucus 7 did in 1980. Stuck with limited technical means, Burns wisely puts his energies into a sophisticated story, knowing an audience couldn't care less about lighting problems if they're caught up in a terrific, character-driven movie with good actors. The tale concerns three adult brothers (Burns, Jack Mulcahy, Mike McGlone) whose complications in love and problems with commitment are rooted in their common experiences in a violent, loveless family. Burns has a hang- loose style that keeps the film from getting drunk on intense drama. He sets up the emotional backdrop and lets the characters' lives speak for themselves. Moreover, this is a filmmaker who enjoys life too much to spread any more misery; Burns delights as much in the things that aren't necessarily good for people--illicit lovers, castration anxiety, too much time with one's family, too much beer--as those things that are. The results are frequently very funny. --Tom Keogh

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