Starting in 1963, this movie follows about 20 years in the lives of two cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) who fall in love with each other when they first take care of sheep upon Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming.
What I Thought
I really don't know where to start on this review, especially given the "controversial" storyline of the two gay cowboys. I use quotes around "controversial" because, come on, it's almost 2006. Even just 10 years ago, this movie would not have been made, but post-Ellen, post-Elton John, post-marriage in MA (not to mention Canada, Spain, South Africa...), etc., it's really high time.
Anyway, like it or not, there's my politics. :) If you've read this far, then you'll be interested in the actual movie. So on to it.
This is one of the best movies I've seen in a long time.
Let me repeat. This is one of the BEST movies I've seen in a looooong time.
The two leads are fantastic. Ledger plays a very stoic, emotionally quiet guy (almost an emotional blank wall) who can convey worlds of passion and emotion in just a few words or a twitch of his mouth. At the other end of the spectrum, Gyllenhall's puppy dog eyes and smile just beam across the mountains. I really cannot say enough about how dynamic and vibrant they both are in this movie. Granted, they think they're making some sort of Statement or History rather than a movie, but sometimes that's what it takes to get this type of heartfelt acting.
As you no doubt know, this film was directed by Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), so expect lots of beautiful scenes (and indeed, the setting is gorgeous) and nature shots. Lee lets the scenery speak for itself without resorting to any "flying" panorama shots or other silliness (as opposed to some of those helicopter-like sweeping scenes in Lord of the Rings).
The storyline is a very simple "can't be together" romance. Since it's set in the 60's and 70's, not to mention cowboyland in Wyoming, the two guys are forced to keep themselves separate from each other except for their "fishing trips" back to Brokeback. In the meantime, they have their respective jobs, wives, children, etc. Think Romeo & Juliet but without the sword fighting (or suicides).
Really, my single complaint is the accent. I'm not up on regional dialects, but everyone talks in this very hard-to-understand (at least to these east coast ears) drawl. On the other hand, this movie is such a visceral and visual movie that it could be reshot with at most a small paragraph of dialog with no loss of understanding.
At the end of the movie, there was not one dry eye in the house. All you heard was sniffles all around.
Granted, those of you who like action flicks (a la Terminator/Die Hard/etc) will just fall asleep in the theater. But you already knew that.
I don't like the Oscars (of COURSE I watch!), but if I did, I would hand this
movie the Best Picture in a heartbeat, not to mention Best Actor to both Ledger
and Gyllenhaal. (Sorry Fantastic Four)
All photos and text copyright Ryszard Kilarski, unless otherwise noted. Clip art, drawings, paintings are either free domain or copyrighted by the artists.