Tuesday, 30 April 2013

Brokeback Mountain (2005) - ★★★★★

Director: Ang Lee
Writers: Annie Proulx (Novel), Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana (Screenplay)
Stars: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Linda Cardellini, Randy Quaid, Anna Faris

Brokeback Mountain is one of those rare movies that are even better than the novel. I've never seen a romance like it. The story isn't a question of sexuality; it is simply about two people who are in love. There is not one thing I would change about this film. Ang Lee managed to turn a good story into a shining masterpiece. It stands among the greatest movies ever made.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give two of the greatest performances of all time here. Their subtle smiles, slight glances and short conversations with each other emoted so much love. I'm sure this movie pushed their talents to the limit, yet they made it look so easy. It's hard to believe that they didn't fall in love in the process of making this film, that's how good their acting was. The most powerful moment was in the final scene, where Ennis (Ledger) says "Jack, I swear." At that moment, Ledger became one of the greatest actors ever to grace the cinema. His performance ranks up with the best of Marlon Brando, Daniel Day-Lewis and Sean Penn.

Even the supporting performances were perfect. Michelle Williams blew me away as Alma, Ennis' wife. The way she looked at Ennis was extremely powerful, her face begging him not to leave. She obviously cared about him a lot, but his relationship with Jack (Gyllenhaal) turned her bitter. Anne Hathaway also surprised me, giving a stunningly cold performance when she was talking over the phone with Ennis. You know who surprised me the most? Anna Faris (Cindy from the Scary Movie franchise). She only played a minor character, just a talkative wife of a rancher. I just think she deserves a mention, for in this film she proved that she can act with the big boys.

One of the things that sets this film apart from the rest is the stunning cinematography. The scenes of the sheep being driven across the mountains look absolutely unreal. Brokeback Mountain is way up there with the most visually beautiful movies I've ever seen. My absolute favourite thing in the film is the sweeping score by Gustavo Santaolalla, which makes every scene that much more powerful. At the end, an orchestra of guitars starts playing that never fails to make me shed a tear.

I think what makes this such a tragic story is that fear kept Jack and Ennis apart. When Ennis was just a boy, his father showed him a man in an irrigation ditch, beaten and tortured to death for being a queer. If only this was the kind of world where, as Jack said, "It's nobody's business but our own." Every time the two went to Brokeback, it was like they were the only people in the world that existed. Nobody there to judge them, to instil fear upon them for being who they are. At one point, Jack says to Ennis "I wish I knew how to quit you." They were the only people who understood each other. Even though their romance hurt innocent people, they needed to be together.

In the end, I was left in awe of how much I connected to the characters. I was also in awe of how emotional I became when it was over. It's one of those movies where you discover something new upon each viewing. The romance of Jack and Ennis is unforgettable. Ang Lee is undoubtedly one of the greatest directors of all time. Brokeback Mountain is a pearl among a sea of good movies.


  1. This is one of those films that leaves me in tears over just a single thought of it. But as much as I do love it, I believe that Ang Lee's best movie is "The Ice Storm."

  2. I like your observation, " Even though their romance hurt innocent people, they needed to be together." I wrote a short essay on Brokeback Mountain called "Nature vs. Nurture." If you would like to read it, here is the link: https://21stcenturyfilms.wordpress.com/2015/02/23/brokeback-mountain/