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Have you ever wondered why some critics review films? They don't even seem to like movies that much from what they write. I LOVE movies, and think about them long after the last credits roll across the screen. My reviews are meant to inform, entertain and never have a spoiler.
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Sunday, January 22, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain is receiving incredible buzz since it won four categories at the Golden Globes (Best Director for Ang Lee; Best Drama; Best Original Song; Best Screenplay for Larry McMurty and Diana Ossana). The film is rated R for sexuality, nudity, language and some violence.

It is 1963 when the film begins. Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) are two young cowboys sent out to Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming to tend a herd of sheep for the summer. The owner of the herd, Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid), doesn’t want the forest service to see where his sheep are grazing and gives them strict instructions on how to perform their job in this isolated area.

Ennis is a very quiet young man, but Jack eventually gains his trust, and they begin a sexual relationship one cold night. Ennis makes it clear to Jack that their relationship cannot continue beyond the summer, as he is engaged to be married to Alma (Michelle Williams).

They part at the end of the summer, and go their separate ways, Jack back to Texas, and Ennis to be married and start a family. Jack eventually marries Lureen (Anne Hathaway), the beautiful daughter of a wealthy family, and also starts a family. Jack contacts Ennis after a few years, and they begin to go on “fishing trips” together periodically up on Brokeback Mountain.

Their relationship is not without its trials. Ennis is more in love with Jack than he is with his wife, who discovers the truth the first time the two lovers tryst. Unfortunately, she does not confront Ennis with this knowledge until many years later.

Jack meanwhile cannot exist without sexual encounters with other men, and he frequents Mexico for these affairs. Ennis is jealous of this, and yet will not form any legitimate life with Jack, as he has haunting memories of the torture and murder of a gay man that holds him back from making any commitment to Jack. The cast is absolutely superb together, and I don’t doubt that we will see Academy Award nominations in several categories.

The film boasts incredible mountain scenery, and the original score by Gustavo Santaolalla fits perfectly with all we are seeing. I recommend this film, although it is not a happy film. It is sad, and sometimes disturbing, as the relationship between these star-crossed lovers is intense and sometimes violent. I predict that after you leave the theater, the film will have you talking to your friends about what you’ve just witnessed for many blocks down the street.

3 comments:

  1. Hi Suzanne. You did a really good job summarizing the story line and what aspects, such as beautiful cinematography and superb acting, contributed to make this an exceptional film. Overall I agree with your review.
    Volumes could be written on the social and psychological issues Brokeback Mountain raises. But, as a gay man, one of the most valuable and interesting to me was how it shatters the myth that many previous movies have promulgated about gay men: that we want to be like women. This is a very masculine movie. The characters are masculine in their appearance and behavior. They have traditionally masculine jobs and hobbies. They drink and fight like "real men". Ennis especially, has an almost Clint Eastwood-like way of talking- he uses words sparingly and is very understated. In movies like "Priscilla Queen of the Desert", you could easily exchange real women for the male characters' roles. Not so in Brokeback Mountain.
    This message if very important for many in American society to understand: that being homosexual does not necessarily equate to being feminine. "Not that there's anything wrong with that!"
    Check out the official website: www.brokebackmountainmovie.com. There I learned, for example, that the name Ennis means "island". Isn't that clever?
    The website also has a link that allows you to add your thoughts about the movie. People around the world are responding to the themes in this movie in a very personal and profound way. I know I, and my friends have. George

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  2. Thanks for your comments, George. I'm glad you shared your thoughts on the film, and hope this inspires others to do so also.

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  3. I loved this movie. I found myself thinking about Ennis and Jack for days afterwards, holding them in my mind as if they were dear friends of mine.

    To build on what George said, the movie presented these two guys not only as "manly men", but as individuals, with very different personalities, choices, and concerns.

    I thought there was just the right amount of physical intimacy; enough to show sexuality and tenderness, but not enough to be graphic. Graphic sex, no matter who the participants, adds a whole 'other dimension to movies, and I think this movie was stronger for not having that.

    It's a tale of forbidden and unrequited love, in which the protagonists could have easily been gay men, a mixed race couple, a mixed class couple, or any number of other "verboten" combinations from the time. It is bleakly sad, because nobody wins. Not the main characters, not their families, not nobody.

    The moment I finally cried was at the very end, when Ennis opens the wardrobe, we see the nestled shirts on the hanger, and Ennis ever-so-tenderly buttons the top button of his dead lover's shirt.

    Sigh.

    I might have to go see it again.

    Peg

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