Saturday, December 31, 2005


Heath Ledger Brokeback Mountain movie Directed by Ang Lee
Starring Heath Ledger
Reviewed by Byron Merritt


Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger, A KNIGHT'S TALE) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal, OCTOBER SKY) are two down-on-their-luck cowpokes looking for a summer job as they silently meet outside a dusty ranch trailer in 1963 Wyoming. Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid, INDEPENDENCE DAY), ranch boss, gives them the duty of moving a herd of sheep up to a spot called Brokeback Mountain where they’ll wile away the hours protecting the flock from predators and allowing them to graze. Their lives are pretty boring and tough, each having to cook, keep an eye on the sheep, and suffer their daily routines. Until one night ...

Ennis comes down from the mountain and is too drunk to go back up, so falls asleep outside Jack’s tent. Ennis’ shivering awakens Jack and he tells Ennis to get inside the tent before he freezes. It is here that something extraordinary and frightening happens: they have sex. It isn’t the soft, touchy-feely kind either. It’s rough and earnest, as though they had hidden something deep down inside each of them that finally was allowed out for some air. But their activities don’t go unnoticed ...

Their boss, Joe Aguirre, catches sight of the two of them "wrestling" and decides to pull them off the mountain. Their summer is cut short and as they part ways, Ennis and Jack are awkward and hesitant. Jack drives away and Ennis walks down the street, watching Jack’s truck vanish down the road. And as this happens, Ennis suddenly become overwhelmed and crumples to the ground, acting as if a part of him has been ripped out.

Jack and Ennis won’t meet up for another four years, during which time they both become married, have children, and develop a semblance of societal normalcy. But when they do finally meet up, they run into each others arms and are immediately back on Brokeback Mountain.
But can their relationship survive in a time when "alternate lifestyles" were taboo? Can Ennis give as much as Jack wants (Jack continually asks Ennis to move with him to a quiet cabin spot and help with a herd of their own, but Ennis can’t break away from what his family and society expects of him)?

Ang Lee (HULK, 2003) delivers his best film to date. The panoramic shots of the mountains were awe-inspiring, and the period vehicles, saddles, and other props were excellent.

Much has been made of Heath Ledger’s performance, and I must say that I was highly impressed with his excellent portrayal of a quiet cowboy in conflict with himself and the world around him.

Jake Gyllenhaal does a fine job, too, as the more earnest love interest, wanting more and more each time they meet up.

The only issues I had with the film were its pacing and the "love" the two feel for each other that some other reviewers have so adamantly pointed out. The pacing was very slow, like the lives of these two men, so if you’re expecting a bang-bang (no pun intended) action, don’t get your hopes up. But if you don’t mind a very leisurely pace (I’d say it’s about on par with the film SIDEWAYS, so if you didn’t like that film’s pace, stay away from this one), you’ll probably love it to pieces.

The "love" should’ve been ratcheted up a notch. The scenes took on a sense of paramours meeting rather than two people truly in love.

But the upside of the movie can’t be denied. It touches on relationships in a way that most films can’t get close to, and does so in a dramatic and thought-provoking way. And ogling at the stunning mountain backdrops added that extra bit of flavor, too.

Oscar Award Winner: Original Score
Oscar Award Winner: Adapted Screenplay
Oscar Award Winner: Achievement in Directing
Golden Globe Winner: Best Motion Picture - Drama
Golden Globe Winner: Best Director - Motion Picture
Golden Globe Winner: Best Screenplay - Motion Picture
Golden Globe Winner: Best Original song - Motion Picture
BAFTA Award Winner: Best Film
BAFTA Award Winner: Achievement in Direction
BAFTA Award Winner: Best Adapted Screenplay
BAFTA Award Winner: Best Actor in a Supporting Role


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