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Two Brothers (2011)
Release Date:


MPAA Rating:
NR

Genre:
Documentary

Starring:
Sam Nelson, Luke Nelson

Written By:
Rick Stevenson

Director:
Rick Stevenson

Official Site:
Two Brothers (2011)

Synopsis:
At the turn of the century, Award-winning filmmaker Rick Stevenson decided to track the lives of 100 children for the next 5000 Days. TWO BROTHERS follows two of those children (Sam & Luke Nelson) in a surprisingly candid journey through time involving their adolescent struggles with brotherhood, depression, peer pressure, forgiveness, and growth in their Mormon faith. As a Protestant Christian, Stevenson got a front seat view of this oft misunderstood religion. The result is a compelling, eye-opening account of growing up in America today.

Two Brothers (2011) | Preview

Taking the Time
Jenn Wright

Content Image

If you're like me, you often wonder what kids are thinking these days. Why are there so many suicides? So much violence? So much gang activity? So much substance abuse? Then, to soothe ourselves, we blame the parents, absent fathers, working moms, broken homes, bad teachers, television, and video games. It can't possibly be our fault—definitely not mine, because I don't even have any children.

But one man has made it his goal to find out what children are thinking, and how their thinking changes over time. Enter Rick Stevenson, a man with a vision to see children grow into healthy adults, with self-awareness and confidence. Stevenson has piloted The 5000 Days Project, a video journal of students in a local school district. The program walks with students for thirteen years, following their dreams, their troubles, their priorities, their thoughts and feelings about themselves and their futures.

Recently, Stevenson completed his first documentary involving these students: a film titled Two Brothers, which tracks the journey of Sam and Luke, the two eldest brothers in a tightly-knit Mormon family, and takes us from their childhood through their church-mandated missions. It is a sensitive walk, illuminating the issues that we rarely see kids talking about—or perhaps haven't taken the time, as Stevenson has, to listen.

Beginning at ages 10 and 8, respectively, Sam and Luke talk about their relationship in separate interviews with Stevenson. Both boys are fairly upbeat and honest. Luke has difficulty with his older brother as Sam teases him and calls him names. Sam claims to not beat up on Luke often, but makes no comment about the teasing. When asked if he loves his brother, Luke tentatively responds with, "Sort of." When asked if he sees any hope for their relationship, he tearfully answers, "No." Sam, on the other hand, when his own tears well up, requests the camera be turned off.

But that's just the beginning. The documentary follows Sam and Luke in many areas of their lives, not just how they relate to each other. Stevenson asks some of the same questions during each interview, such as, "What do you want to be when you grow up?" and "Where do you see yourself in ten years?"—the answers to which, unsurprisingly, change over the course of the film.

Later in high school, a smiling Sam acknowledges that he was very depressed quite often from about seventh grade through mid-high school. Though he hid it well, in the interviews he is open about not feeling like he's a part of anything, describing those years as "lonely." Not far from tears, he acknowledges that he's a sensitive guy whose insecurity made him rely on a sense of belonging in his family and sharing his faith. Both young men share an established faith within the Latter-Day Saints tradition, emphasizing family so strongly that the viewer understands why tears are shed when Luke initially sees no hope for relating to his brother. With a faith built foundationally around family, the pain between Sam and Luke becomes more palpable.

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