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by Gerardo Olivares and Otmar Penker

grade: 4.5

Brothers of the Wind, directed by Gerardo Olivares and Otmar Penker, is a timeless tale, a coming-of-age story with many elements that make it inevitably rhetorical and sappy.

Free in the air

Ancestral themes are staged in Brothers of the Wind, directed by Gerardo Olivares and Otmar Penker. Universal themes, yes, with a strong appeal, but also – as we will see shortly – very risky to stage without dangerous rhetoric. They are, in fact, the difficult father-son relationship, the importance of friendship, the essential need for freedom and, last but not least, even the story of Cain and Abel. The name of the film’s co-star eagle actually speaks for itself.

Abel is a baby eagle who is thrown out of the nest by his little brother. Young Lukas (Manuel Camacho) lives with his father (Tobias Moretti) in a small cabin on the Alpine slopes. After his mother’s death (after she tried to save him from a fire), the boy – implicitly blamed by his father for what happened – shut himself up in a stubborn and understandable muteness. Things seem to change when, while walking in the woods, the boy finds the little eaglet by chance and decides to take care of it by taking it with him to his secret hideout, with the help of Danzer (Jean Reno) – a local lumberjack.

Given the (almost) guaranteed appeal of certain themes to the public, it is not uncommon for stories of friendship between children and animals to be shown on the big screen. Just think, for example, of the recent French saga Belle and Sebastian. And even if, in this specific case, unfortunately we have come across every possible rhetoric and cliché (including a particularly problematic direction), the same adverse fate has befallen our Brothers of the Wind. With the exception of the interesting footage of the baby eagle and its point of view, shot by Austrian documentary filmmaker Otmar Penker – specialised in animal footage – unfortunately Brothers of the Wind has nothing particularly significant. The fact is that there are quite a few elements that make it an overly rhetorical and sappy tale. And also, sometimes, clumsily contrived.

One of the most disturbing elements, for example, is undoubtedly the annoying and useless narrator, present throughout the film and so cumbersome that he overdubs the scenes too often and creates a dangerous TV documentary effect (Penker’s career doesn’t lie).

Another disturbing element is a redundant and cloying soundtrack, which, adding to a quite “saccharine” plot, makes the viewer’s glycemia rise in a few minutes. The character of Keller, Lukas’ father, deserves a special mention. Presented to us in a very ambiguous way from the very first minutes, the man also initially seems potentially interesting, although in 90% of the scenes in which he is present, he’ s constantly hammering away at who knows what. In any case, the viewer will hope for a final twist, in which the character finally reveals all his complexity. These hopes are sadly disappointed when we see Keller trying to set fire to his son (having never forgiven him for the accidental death of his wife) and then suddenly coming to his senses, by noticing an old family photo that the child had kept until then. These are moments that inevitably make us miss Tobias Moretti as Richard Moser, the clumsy and a little bit flirty policeman in Inspector Rex. But that, of course, is another story.

Original title: Wie Brüder im Wind
Directed by: Gerardo Olivares, Otmar Penker
Country/year: Austria / 2016
Running time: 94’
Genre: adventure
Cast: Manuel Camacho, Tobias Moretti, Jean Reno, Eva Kuen
Screenplay: Joanne Reay
Cinematography: Oscar Duran, Otmar Penker
Produced by: Terra Mater Factual Studios

Info: Brother of the Wind’s page on the website of the Österreichisches Filminstitut