Buzz around Brokeback Mountain is deafening. It reminds me a lot of last year’s buzz around Sideways, and like Sideways, Brokeback doesn’t knock me off my feet like I thought it would.
This is a movie ripe for such phrases as “The Gay Cowboy Movie” or “Bareback Mountain”, but after you get the gist of this flick you realize this movie is no joke. This movie is deep, it is emotional and it is tragic, but for me it hits its emotional high WAY too soon, and it is very short lived. There are enough surprises throughout that I don’t want to go too in-depth, but I will make an attempt at a short synopsis.
The film begins in the early 1960s in Signal, Wyoming where we are first introduced to Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). These two have never met each other until this first morning where they are both in line for a job as sheepherders on Brokeback Mountain. The two are hired together and they head to the mountain as traditional good ol’ boys, with their eyes set on marriage, work and a family life, but as time passes more than a friendship blossoms as the two fall into an unspoken love only to part ways once their time on Brokeback ends.
Four years pass with no word between the two until Jack sends Ennis a postcard saying he is going to be in town for a visit, a visit that provides the emotional high for the film and sets the story down its path.
The scene I just mentioned is certainly the emotional high and I got a feeling in my heart I would have never expected as a hetrosexual male. This is the first time I actually felt the love between two onscreen male characters. More often than not I find gay male relationships in movies to be either there for comic relief or just unbelievable, but when Ennis and Jack embrace for the first time in four years you are going to feel something unless your heart is made of stone.
So how can I find fault in this amazing scene? My problem is that it came too soon! This scene comes so early in the picture that the rest can’t live up to its impact. The rest of the film, while I am not going to tell you what happens, becomes so predictable, and trust me there are opportunities for more emotion. Major occurrances happen, and you don’t get to see the full picture and a lot of emotion is lost where director Ang Lee could have literally ripped out the audience’s heart. Come on Ang! Hit me with all you’ve got, film audiences need a wakeup call!
A lot of fanfare is being tossed in the direction of just about everyone involved in the film including seven Golden Globe nominations. There is a nom for Lee as director, Michelle Williams for supporting actress and Heath Ledger for actor in a drama; it is this last one I want to discuss. Ledger certainly gives the performance of his life, but it is not this fantastic performance that everyone seems to be raving about. In one seen Ledger is required to become an emotional wreck, but his tears are about as convincing as Jennifer Aniston’s were on “Friends”, that is to say, I wasn’t buying it. This is obviously a bit nit picky, bt if we are going to say this guy is out of this world I think a nit pick is worth some kind of attention.
My complaints and criticisms aside this is still a good movie. While I don’t think it is the Oscar darling everyone is making it out to be, it certainly has a shot at numerous awards considering this year’s lack of major contenders.