Why “A River Runs Through It” is the All-Time Best Movie About Brothers

Movies that are about brothers and the relationship that exists between them are plentiful in Hollywood but they tend to take a different tact with each film that comes out. A River Runs Through It did the same, yet they hit upon a level of realism that was so compelling that it easily catapults this movie into a class that few others can match. There’s nothing fantastical about the movie, no mystical connection, nothing like another of Brad Pitt’s movies where brotherhood is sacred. In Legends of the Fall he was just as close to his brothers when in character, but there was a wildness to Tristan that is vaguely seen in Paul, despite not being the same thing. Paul is the brother that has no set direction in life despite the fact that he does settle on a job. Still, Paul continually finds himself in trouble while Norman, the dutiful son, is the constant brother that has a well-developed plan and sees it through. Together they’re trouble at times but more often than not can be relied upon to be steadfast and respectful around their parents and others. But they act as two halves of the same coin more often than not, individuals that share a desire for something greater than themselves despite the manner in which they go about getting it.

As movies depicting brothers go it’s probably one of the absolute best ever made.

It shows the strength of brotherhood.

Paul and Norman couldn’t be more different when it comes to being related. Norman is more straight-laced whereas Paul is as carefree as the wind at times. Plus Paul is a lot more loose when it comes to his sense of morals than Norman could ever be. But when it comes to the strength of the bond between them Normal will always be there for Paul. The relationship is kind of one-sided since Paul tends to get into trouble and need someone to bail him out more often, but overall the two are bound by their sense of family duty and won’t bail on one another when it help is really needed. Norman is frustrated by Paul but won’t abandon him, which is what brothers do for one another no matter if they like it or not.

The movie depicts just how far family will go for each other.

Brothers tend to act differently around one another than they will anyone else. It’s a testament to growing up with each other and knowing each other on a level that few others could possibly understand. It doesn’t matter if how much difference there is between siblings, no one else aside from your parents is going to know you as well as your own blood. That’s why Norman continually sticks his neck out for Paul and grows increasingly frustrated by him at the same time. He knows what to expect and yet still is there when Paul needs him even if he doesn’t agree with what Paul did to get into trouble. Sometimes however Norman and Paul both got into trouble and it was because where one goes the other was bound to follow. That’s how it is with a lot of brothers, especially those that are this close. You don’t want to be left out and you don’t want them doing something dangerous alone.

There’s a level of frustration between siblings that’s hard to depict in movies, but this one nails it.

The culmination of any relationship with a sibling is going to based on confrontation as well as reconciliation and appreciation. Brothers are notorious for going through cycles when it comes to loving and hating one another, even if some brothers don’t take it to this kind of extreme. In the film you can see that Norman is constantly frustrated by his brother and his lack of structure in his life, but he’s also there to stand up for him when need be. But the frustrations that mount tend to take a toll on both of them as well as their parents, who have to suffer through the boys’ growing years and then their adult years when it seems that their parents tend to coddle Paul too much and expect a great deal out of Norman. That’s the difference between siblings however, those that can do for themselves might feel that they’re left out in the cold more often and those that accept the coddling of their parents are then viewed as spoiled and not at all capable of caring for themselves in various ways.

However you cut it, having siblings is tough in more ways than one and it will test the mettle of anyone that has had to deal with it while growing up. This movie shows how hard brotherhood can be, but it also shows that in some cases it can be its own reward.

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