Brokeback Mountain
Psst .. Anne. He’s gay. Don’t fall for it. Give me a call!


Golden Mug

2005 GOLDEN MUGS

WINNER:

Best Cinematography (Rodrigo Prieto)

NOMINEE:

Best Director (Ang Lee)
Best Adapted Screenplay (Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana-screenplay, Annie Proulx-short story)
Best Score (Gustavo Santaolalla)


Theatrical Release Date: 12/09/2005
Director: Ang Lee
Cast: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams

With “Brokeback Mountain”, Ang Lee presents the tale of two cowboys in the early 1960’s who fall in love with each other while working together in Wyoming. The pressures of societal norms at the time force them into trying to hide their secret but they do whatever possible to see each other over a story that covers about 25 years.

Apparently there was a great deal of difficulty in casting the two leads as many of Hollywood’s leading men thought this project was career suicide. In the end, Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger accepted the roles and are being rewarded with critical praise and probable box office success (if the early per-screen averages of over $100,000 are any indication in its limited release in L.A., New York and San Francisco).

Gyllenhaal’s performance is good for the most part but as the story develops over the span of the story, it is harder and harder to understand that his character is getting older. They give him a mustache but I still wasn’t buying it.

Heath Ledger, on the other hand, provides an outstanding performance. After seeing the trailer for this film ad nauseum, I was all set to be distracted by his accent for the film. But I have to admit that as the film progressed, I did not find myself annoyed aside from the cliché lines used in the trailer itself. Ledger is the foundation for the story and it is because of his stoic angst that the film works.

As it was the ‘60s, Gyllenhaal and Ledger’s characters follow the normal path of rural American men at the time and get married. Anne Hathaway and Michelle Williams play their respective wives with enough believability to show that the cowboys’ act of normalcy is a damaging one to their unsuspecting wives. Both couples have children and another element that separates Ledger’s character out from the rest is his fatherly relationship with his oldest daughter, played nicely by Cheyenne Hill and Kate Mara as the character ages.

The cinematography for the film is well done, and Lee takes advantage of the natural beauty of the settings. Many of his shots are carefully thought out and frame the important elements with precision and skill.

I don’t have many complaints but the pacing is a little too slow, especially in the beginning and Ledger and Gyllenhaal’s characters just sort of start their relationship out of nowhere. While there is some subtext going on, there isn’t enough to show why two cowboys in such a morally constrained era would undertake such a dangerous relationship so suddenly. The rest of the film does bear out how strong their love is but initially I was taken aback.

There is only one scene of gay sex and a surprising scant number of kisses and embraces, which is actually disappointing for a film dealing with this subject material. I don’t know if that’s because of the script or Lee, but if you are looking to see Gyllenhaal in the buff, you get more in “Jarhead”. Though I do want to thank Lee for tossing in a little female nudity to please the other half of the audience.

My last gripe is that to make Hathaway seem older as the story develops, they give her blonde hair. This made me cringe, as it was horribly done and badly styled. Normally I don’t get into this territory as I am only an honorary lesbian, but this was bad – especially on one of Hollywood’s most attractive actresses.

So adding it all up, “Brokeback Mountain” gets a 4 out of 5 from me and is probably one of the top ten films of the year. We’ll see where it stands once I take in the entire year’s films. This is definitely an art house type of film, and only because of the controversy is mainstream America going to see it. It’s well worth your time and money if you can appreciate a movie devoid of car crashes, explosions and Colin Farrell.