Guy Pearce as Aidan McRory
Jean-Claude Dreyfus as Eugène Normandin
Philippine Leroy-Beaulieu as Mathilde Normandin
Freddie Highmore as Raoul
Oanh Nguyen as His Excellency
Moussa Maaskri as Saladin
Vincent Scarito as Zerbino
Maï Anh Le as Naï-Rea
Jaran Phetjareon as Village chief
Stéphanie Lagarde as Paulette
Bernard Flavien as His Excellency’s majordome
Nozha Khouadra as Madame Zerbino
Annop Varapanya as Sergent Van Tranh
Director Jean-Jacques Annaud strives to make movies that are visually stunning, often with little dialog, letting the actions on the screen carry the plot. Two Brothers continues on that path and feels like an updated version of a Lassie movie, filmed with tigers instead of a dog.
Visually, the movie is often stunning. Filmed in Cambodia and Thailand, the locations are rich and vibrant. In addition to the great scenery, Annaud is able to get emotions out of the two title character tigers. Often the movie has the feel of a nature documentary, mostly when following the tigers in their youth, but there is a story layered on top of the excellent camera work.
The story is a simple one. Tigers are happy. Man comes and separates tigers; tigers are sad. Tigers meet again. The catalyst for all of this is Aidan McRory (Guy Pearce), a big game trophy hunter that has moved on to the lucrative trade in stolen antiquities. The tigers pose a threat to the local people, and a bounty is on their head. This bounty orphans the two young tigers who end up separated and experience vastly different lifestyles, changing the basic nature of who they are.
While the tigers have a lot of character development, the humans are mostly stereotypical cutouts. Guy Pearce looks the part and has the proper elitist attitude of a Victorian era game hunter, making the redemption of Aidan McRory more satisfying, if a little less believable. The young emperor (Oanh Nguyen) is the only other character with any depth, but it is a rather small roll.
Who should see this movie? Nature and tiger lovers. The movie is almost a political statement about the value of nature and everything within it. The story is a good one, if a bit shallow, and should easily captivate anyone that loves exotic locations. There is a fair amount of action, but it is all of an animal nature. The movie is being targeted at a young audience, and it should go over pretty well with them. The violence is mostly off screen, but young children could still be frightened. Also, the death of the tiger cubs’ family might be hard for some younger viewers. If you are looking for a love story or a mystery you need to look elsewhere. It is a nice light summer movie, but it still has a message that will resonate with many people.