Quick warning: the end of the movie is revealed here!
As I said, it takes place in an earlier time, when life was simpler. Brothers Norman (actor's name escapes me ... Craig Sch...) and Paul (Brad Pitt) live in a town in Montanna. Their father (Tom Skeritt) is a preacher who teaches them to fly fish. As the boys grow up, they begin to get into trouble, as most people do. Norman is the 'good' boy, whereas Paul is the defiant one.
Norman leaves home to go to school out East (Ivy League, I forget which one), where he spends 5 years, hardly going home. Paul, on the other hand, becomes a journalist in a nearby town, remaining in Montanna to be near to the water, as he loves fly fishing.
When Norman returns home, he falls back in with their old group of friends, and meets a girl, Jessie. Norman soon has to go pick Paul up from jail, for fighting. Here he is told that Paul has become quite a regular at the jail, and he should be watched.
Learning of his brother's debt in gambling, Norman offers to help Paul out. Always one of dignity, Paul states that it is his debt, and he will take care of it.
Accepting a teaching job in ... Atlanta (? my memory is growing faint!), Norman asks Jessie to marry him and go with. She accepts. He also asks Paul to go with, to get away from all this (the debt, the drinking). Paul declines. Soon after, the inevitable that I was dreading: Paul is beaten to death by those he owes money to. It was such a sad ending, even though I knew it was coming. The film closes with Norman, as an old man, fishing in the waters of Montanna, where he has been narrating the whole story for us.
It's something I would recommend seeing, but it's not the fastest paced movie, so be patient, sit back, and enjoy it.