Directed by: Ang Lee (The Ice Storm, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Hulk)
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway
It seems that every year that I watch the Oscars I am completely baffled by the selections for best picture, most notably because I haven’t seen half of them or simply don’t see eye to eye as to what Hollywood feels were its best films of the year. I usually catch these movies on DVD and from time to time I’m pleasantly surprised to see that the film(s) isn’t a pile of dogshit.
So, given the critical acclaim and golden-statue worthy recognition along with its controversial subject matter, I took a trip to “Brokeback Mountain.” And now I’m gay.
I laughed aloud at the promo trailers for “Mountain” and had a morbid curiosity to see the movie for its Mystery Science Theater 3,000 qualities. I never thought I’d actually see it in theaters and had a good time making fun of people that said or thought they might.
Now, the jokes on me.
Most people are aware that I am a Christian Conservative, or a Bush-lovin’ war mongerer, however that doesn’t prohibit me from opening myself up to just about any and all kinds of movies. I must admit, at first, this movie did not appeal to me, with the exception of a possibly hilarious movie a la “The Other Sister.”
So, you just want to know if it’s any good, right? Is there any butt sex or blowjobs?
Well, allow me to calm your nerves. Yes and sorta.
“Brokeback Mountain” is surprisingly good, very well directed, exceptionally acted, and subtly well written.
The story focuses on two drifter cowboys who meet on a job herding and protecting sheep on Brokeback Mountain. Neither of them are flaming homosexuals belting out Wizard of Oz tunes or talking about their love of everything Cabaret. They both come off as simple ole’ boys trying to make a living with a poor education and western-style values.
The problem arises when they both fall in love for one another. It’s a deep, secret love and one that neither of them has a good grasp or understanding of. It simply is and they have no idea how to handle it.
Now, I have to clarify my standing on the whole “gay” thing. I don’t pretend to have the answers on why people are “gay.” I don’t know for a fact if they’re born gay or if they grow into it or simply choose it as their lifestyle. I honestly don’t give it enough thought.
I do believe that it exists, obviously, and has existed since the dawn of time. For whatever reason. I’m not God (or Darwin for those of you so inclined – Monkeys building rockets…oh my!)
I am not gay. Yep, big surprise. I don’t hold a grudge against anyone that is. I’m not a fan of the flaming gay types and not because they’re gay…it’s because they’re fucking annoying. I’m not PC either. I don’t feel right about gay people getting married. That’s me. Love it or hate it.
Anyways, that’s getting off the topic. Just wanted you to have a warm and fuzzy on where I stand on the issue as it relates to the review of the film.
Now, when the first “love” scene took place, I was, in fact, jabbing my wife and giggling like a ten year old that just saw boobs for the first time. Since I’m not gay and have not experienced the act of “gay love” I am rather uncomfortable and put off by it. I wasn’t quite sure of the characters motives but plead ignorance in the face of gay sexual attraction. I have no grasp on it.
Fortunately, like the first time you watch a Sex Ed video, it happens quickly and the film moves on and you’re able to settle into the story and not focus on Jarhead and Casanova having man-sex.
Heath Ledger is really great as Ennis Del Mar, a drifter with traditional values in his head and very non-traditional desires in his heart. Ennis (or Casanova), after the job on Brokeback is over, marries Michelle Williams and goes on to father two daughters and live an otherwise “normal” life.
Jack (or Jarhead), played by Jake Gyllenhal, goes on to be a bull rider and ends up meeting and porking Anne Hathaway (Ms. Princess Diary) and fathers a child of his own, later becoming a farming equipment salesman.
All seems to be taking its course, but the two men can’t stop thinking of each other and one day Casanova receives a postcard from Jarhead and they meet up. Unfortunately, their passion ignites instantly and Michelle Williams catches them making out and lives with this throughout her marriage and subsequent divorce.
Casanova and Jarhead head out to Brokeback Mountain on “fishing trips” and build their relationship over time, all the while leading their double life as a good father and husband. This part of the story I found troubling, due mostly to the fact that they would even try to have a normal life, but looking at the time that the story takes place (1960’s and beyond) the U.S. was in a turbulent time. Civil rights movement, Vietnam, Burning Bras, Free love, Tie Dye, etc., etc. I don’t think the country was ready for the next sexual revolution involving gay rights.
Anyways, Jarhead wants to run away and start a ranch with Casanova, but Casanova believes that their love is completely forbidden and should be kept secret for fear of persecution and death, having seen the results of a man that had outed himself when Casanova was a child, the man beaten, dick torn off and left for dead in the desert.
It leaves him the message that basically says, “Don’t be gay…or you’ll be killed.”
So, Casanova continues to try and be “normal,” meeting women and carrying on, never having any kind of sexual relationship with any other man except Jarhead, who wants nothing more than to run away with Casanova.
It’s really just a love story in the same vein we’ve seen again and again. It’s Romeo and Romeo. In the end, the parts that I giggled so much over while watching the trailer were actually very emotional in the film.
The film is long and it tracks a long time span of more than 20 years, which surprised me and actually gave the film a lot more depth than just being about two guys fucking on a mountain.
We watch these men grow and change and struggle with their everyday lives as well as trying to maintain this love that is kept secret.
Now, don’t go thinking I’m all pro-gay and that I’m putting a rainbow sticker on my truck and buying tickets to a Streisand concert. I still maintain my personal beliefs and feelings on the issue, most of which were stated above. However, despite my lack of understanding or complete acceptance of the gay lifestyle, I still found “Brokeback Mountain” to be one of the most engaging, thought-provoking, emotional, and resonating films out this year.
I think that there will be a lot of people that simply will not see this film based on their personal or religious beliefs and that’s fine. Everyone has the right to disagree or choose not to support any film out there. Now, why they’re not boycotting shit like “Big Momma’s House 2” instead of “Brokeback Mountain” I’ll never know.
By conventions, I never should have seen this film. However, I’m glad I did. And when the worthless Hollywood self-congratulating Golden statues are tossed around in March, I won’t swear at the TV and wish for Hollywood to burn to the ground if “Brokeback Mountain” takes home some awards.
This is a great movie to see and debate about when it’s over or simply just to enjoy and discuss. There’s a lot going on and I’m sure there will be a divide in audiences.
Also, for the hetero-crowd, we are treated to both Anne Hathaway’s and Michelle William’s bare breasts.
It’s at least a lose-win situation for everyone involved.
Movie Grade: A