Oct 10, 2010

[Movies] Brokeback Mountain (2005)

Brokeback Mountain (2005)The Geeky Guide started back in 2006, and that leaves a heck of a lot of movies that I've seen in the past but have not formally reviewed. It's always tricky to figure out which ones those are - I end up searching the Geeky Guide entries on my own in order to figure things out.

Thus for today's LGBT-themed review, I found myself checking out the AfterElton list of 50 Favorite Gay Films for inspiration, and realized that I had never posted a review for the top movie on the list. Sure, I had caught it at the theaters when it originally debuted but I never got around to formalizing my opinion about it.

It would probably be a good idea to watch it again sometime soon - I did enjoy this movie quite significantly at the time. I enjoyed it sufficiently enough such that I'm pretty confident about this review without the need to, well, review the movie in too much detail. Or something like that. Plus Jake's in it!

Brokeback Mountain is the surprise LGBT movie directed by Ang Lee as adapted from the Annie Proulx short story of the same name. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards and managed to win three - Best Original Score, Best Adapted Screenplay and Best Director.

Jake Gyllenhall and Heath Ledger in Brokeback ...Image via WikipediaThe movie begins with ranch hand Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) first meet when they both try to get work herding the sheep of Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid). The two set off to Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming to tend to the sheep. There they slowly get to know one another better and their friendship grows into something deeply meaningful...and perhaps something more as well. One night, the two realize the connection between them is more than friends. Despite an awkward start to things, eventually the two connect and give into their feelings and the rest, they say is history.

The rest of the movie follows the two men across a span of twenty something years. After their experiences on Brokeback Mountain, the two part ways and try to live their own lives. Ennis marries his long time fiancee Alma (Michelle Williams) and even has two kids. Jack marries rodeo rider Lureen (Anne Hathaway) and starts a life with her in turn. And yet ove the many years, the two man meet periodically for fishing trips and thus they continue to consummate their secret affair of sorts.

The movie was clearly done by an Asian director - you can tell from the attention to detail and the respect for a longer form of storytelling. This doesn't mean more events taking place on-screen - it's more about keeping the pacing steady yet more measured together with a healthy respect for silence. Thus all the beautiful shots of the countryside, the sheep, the dusty Texas desert and many, many others. It all turned out quite nicely, I felt - artistic without becoming ridiculous or overbearing. It just worked.

The performances by both Ledger and Gyllenhaal were simply amazing, regardless of your opinions regarding the subject matter. They truly and completely did their very best to depict the complex relationship between these two men and the pain they had to endure because of it. It was a life filled with extraordinary restraint, reined in emotions, familial obligations and of course many, many secrets.

The movie was a great example of the complexities of a closeted bisexual relationship. Sure, we all joke about this being a "gay cowboy movie", but given how these two men managed to have families even after their time on Brokeback, well, that says a lot. While their specific sexual orientation was never firmly defined and of course it probably doesn't matter as much. However in terms of speculations, it's pretty obvious these two are more bisexual rather than gay. Thus this is really more of a bisexual cowboy movie, right? Or is that a no-so-helpful useful piece of on-the-fly analysis?

Beyond all that, this is still a pretty awesome movie regardless of your orientation - it's not a porno after all. Brokeback Mountain gets 4.5 blood-stained work shirts out of a possible 5.

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