Sunday, November 8, 2009

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain; Drama, USA, 2005; D: Ang Lee, S: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Linda Cardellini

Wyoming in '63. Cowboys Ennis del Mar and Jack Twist apply for a job as sheep guards on the isolated Brokeback mountain. As days pass by the two youngsters are getting more and more bored. One night they become drunk and half-conscious have intercourse. The next day they both soberly say they are not gay. After their job expires, they part their ways. Ennis gets married to Alma, while Jack gets married to Lureen. But after a few years, they meet again and their love awakens again. For 20 years, they have a secret affair, until Jack dies in a bizarre way in Texas. Ennis stays alone, hugging his jacket.

Unusual gay drama crafted like a normal romance, "Brokeback Mountain" was an ambitious excursion of director Ang Lee into not your run-of-the-mill cowboy film. "Brokeback" starts routinely yet becomes more and more intense with time, until it finishes on a high note. However, there's a difference between an emotional story and an emotional story with masterful touch, and the film has some problems with the later since, if one would just drop the "controversial" gay tangle, it would look just like an ordinary affair film. Director Lee captures the beautiful images of the Wyoming countryside, actors Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway all delivered top-notch performances that any actor would be proud of, the cinematography is amazing and the lyrical charge is strong. The understated-minimalistic story doesn't show much, but cleverly gives an analysis of how society is creating invisible boundaries, while some of the situations are wonderfully written: one of the best ones is when Lureen has an obvious crush on Jack, who is sitting passively at the bar. She then approaches him and humorously says: "What are you waiting for, cowboy? A matting call?" It's a quality story, yet the film is still somehow too sterile, standard, grey and mechanical. The finale where Ennis is hugging Jack's jacket is one of the most poetic moments of the decade, and it's a pity the whole film wasn't such a powerful event up until that point.


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