I normally review a movie
almost immediately after seeing it. However, Brokeback Mountain
has taunted me, leaving me unsure of what to say as it simmered in my mind.
Suddenly it is weeks later and I'm still no closer to crystallizing my
opinion of the movie than I was when I walked out of the theater.
So here goes.
Brokeback Mountain is brilliant filmmaking. It is spectacularly
evocative. It has wonderful cinematography, spectacular acting, a
tragic conflict and some of the most fantastic scenery of any film in recent
years. It fully deserves all of the positive press that it has been
Yet, honestly, I respected
it more than I enjoyed it.
Please, no cries of
homophobia — the fact that the movie is a love story of gay cowboys does
not bother me at all. In fact, I'm rather surprised it has taken so
long for the idea to be done. I can see how if there are only rugged
men in great wide open spaces, these things are just going to happen.
No judgments here.
In case you have been out on
in a mountain campfire for the last several weeks, this is the story of two
hardened cowboys, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake
Gyllenhaal) who are hired to spend the winter on a remote Wyoming mountain
caring for livestock in the early 1960s. At first they get on each
other's nerves — Jack talks too much and Ennis not at all — but eventually
they become friends. Then one night in the middle of a horrible
snowstorm, when the two men fear they may freeze to death, the two become
Even though both swear that
they are not homosexual, they spend the rest of the winter as lovers.
When they come down from the mountain, they go back to their regular lives.
Ennis marries his girlfriend Alma and starts a family. Jack tries to
become a rodeo rider and gets a rich girl named Lureen (Anne Hathaway)
pregnant. They also get married.
The two men repress the fact
that they are each other's true love (particularly Ennis, Jack does dream of
a day when he and Ennis can be together). They get together
periodically for "fishing trips" over the years, but most of the time they
try to juggle their own unhappy home lives.
The film is spectacularly
realistic about its time and its lifestyle. It was a beautiful love
story — no matter what the sex of the participants were.
It was just the movie was so
serious, the characters were so repressed, their life choices so tragic that
it made for uncomfortable viewing. Yes, of course, that is what was
exactly what was meant by the film. Also, yes, I understand that was
the way that it probably had to be in this particular place and time.
However, sometimes you react to a film viscerally and sometimes you don't.
As a critic I can say nothing but positive things about Brokeback
Mountain. I am glad that I have seen it and I have no doubt that
it will sweep the Oscars. It was an incredibly well-done film.
However, I doubt I'll ever be moved to see it again.
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Posted: February 14, 2006.