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Movie Review: Brokeback Mountain

December 11, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

Jake Gyllenhal
Heath Ledger
Michelle Williams
Anne Hathaway
Dir. Ang Lee

In early 1960’s Wyoming, two Log Cabin Republicans take jobs herding sheep up on a place called Brokeback Mountain. The working stiffs get stiffies for each other while working, buggery ensues. They apparently fall in love, though one, gruff Ennis (Heath Ledger) is bethrothed to a woman, Alma (Michelle Williams). That leaves the other midnight cowboy, the bottom , Jack “fuckin’” Twist (Jake Gyllenhal) to ride off lonesome. The two men get into a Same Time Next Year arrangement that lasts 20 years, about 15 or so years longer than Ennis’ marriage.
This piece of Oscar bait might whip up some love for Ledger, who certainly deserves it, grunting and huffing his way through the film, his emotions wired shut as his jaw seems to be as he delivers his lines, every note he hits seems to ring true. Gyllenhall just seems to be in a different version of the movie, like he’s in Manhattan or something. Even though the film is packed (no pun) with Hollywood closeted gay love story stereotypes (the bottom isn’t very masculine, all emotional; Ennis prefers to make love with his wife doggy style) the story hasn’t all that much to do with being gay except that it serves as a barrier to the main characters having a happy life together. Observe Jack’s wife (Anne Hathaway, who is pretty terrible until one fantastic scene at the end of the film), who is really a feminine version of Ennis, emotionally distant. Does Jack seek out those kinds of people, and is that his undoing? Does he drive his wife to become like Ennis? We don’t know because it’s Ennis’ story, and I’d have been more interested in seeing Jack’s life play out a little more up close, and not so much in terms of his relationship with Ennis only. Also, the film is a bit drab. Don’t know whether that was director Ang Lee’s intention (their world is colorless, etc) or whether the print we saw was not that great.

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