"A gay cowboy movie" is the term people usually use to describe "Brokeback Mountain" in brief. Yet, I agree with what Roger Ebert said in his review on this film, that it's an inappropriate simplification--or I'd rather said, an irresponsible mockery. Well, it's not that I set myself aside with this situation, but right after I watched "Brokeback Mountain", I know that this film spoke far more than that--although the film itself was less judgmental to conclude which is right and which is wrong. Bringing an Oscar statue for Ang Lee as Best Director, "Brokeback Mountain" quite became a controversy on the year it released, as many local or international parties banned this film to the cinemas for the topic it raised: homosexuality.
It's all started in 1960s when two cowboys, Ennis Del Mar (played by the deceased Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (played by Jake Gyllenhaal), worked as herdsmen on the scenery of Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming, USA. Spending times together, they were then involved in an emotional relationship in a form of homosexuality, since in one night they did sex in their tent. Yet, they tried to deny it as they separated after the job done and back to their own livings. Ennis then married Alma (played by Michelle Williams) and had two daughters, while Jack continued rodeo-ing and married Lureen (played by Anne Hathaway). However they cannot stop their feeling to each other, as they finally met years after to spend time together. It soon brought problems to their wives and families.
"This is a one-shot thing we got goin' on here." - Ennis Del Mar
Spanned to more than 20 years, the story of “Brokeback Mountain” could be divided into two big parts: before they involved in the “forbidden” love and after it. The focus is more to the “after” part, as we’ll be presented with the impacts of their unusual romance to their surroundings and how they maintain their relationship. It takes maybe about 3/4 of the duration. That’s why, I felt like the story went a little bit rushy in the front. It’s like we’re not taken to deeply feel how these two mature gentlemen could slip into a homosexual relationship. We’re not given enough reason for that (I mean, just because two men slept together side-by-side in the same camp didn’t mean that they were attracted to do sex right after). However, regardless of that, the presentation of the “after” part was totally amusing. Many emotional conflicts raised, and some correlating reasons to the “before” parts appeared. What I appreciate most is how it slowly lead the viewer to understand the situation without being too judgmental. The plot didn’t tell if what Ennis and Jack have done was right or wrong: it just went honestly, very naturally, without regarding the situation as a big deal. We’re left to see it from our own view.
Well, I think I’ll put Ang Lee into my list of directors whose films I must watch, especially for drama. I mean he was ... spectacular! He did a perfect job in achieving a great atmosphere of the plot and an artistic view at the same time. The two leading actors deserved high appreciation for their roles. Heath Ledger put Ennis Del Mar as a tough, less-talking, but fragile man with his own background, while Jake Gyllenhaal made Jack Twist be a more expressive and heart-warming guy. They described the complicated emotional feeling in a very detailed way, so it’s comprehensively told that the relationship they had was not a matter of lust, but rather an emotional connection of two gentlemen (see, they didn’t even say love to each other; they just portrayed it in the way they behave). It’s again not only a remarkable achievement of the actors but also an outstanding job from the director and a solid screenplay. The supporting actresses, built a good conflict as they brought different types of wives: Alma was more a psychologically threatened wife while Lureen became a more indifferent and condescending.
At last, “Brokeback Mountain” brought a new perspective in seeing a taboo. Both Ennis and Jack were gentlemen: they did man things, married women, and even had children. “You know, I ain’t queer,” said Ennis after they had their first night together, and Jack replied, “Me neither”. It's more than just a gay topic. I mean, the problem here could be largely viewed to any other kinds of “forbidden” love like a love relating from different ethnic groups, different religious views, and so on. More than 20 years period of time was briefly conducted in a slow-paced, detailed plot. It's a perfect combination of great director, great casts, and great screenplay. “Brokeback Mountain” was wise, far from being judgmental, and surely much better than just “a gay cowboy movie".
▲ Great cast, great directorial work, great plot
▼ Controversial; a little bit rushy in the front
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN | COUNTRY USA YEAR 2005 RATING Rated R for sexuality, nudity, language and some violence RUNTIME 134 min GENRE Drama, Romance CAST Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid WRITER Annie Proulx (short story), Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana (screenplay) DIRECTOR Ang Lee IMDB RATING 7.7/10 METACRITIC 87/100 (Universal Acclaim) ROTTEN TOMATOES 87% (Certified Fresh) MORE INFO