Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (or, My Attempt at a Movie Review)

Brokeback Mountain I would rate as a very good film. Apart from whatever political or social issues it raises, it is a good film.

Very simply, it is a love story. The film, in episodic fashion, captures the love affair between two men in Wyoming from the 1960s to the 1970s. Their meeting, the awkwardness of their initial feelings towards each other, their drifting apart and coming back together over the course of a lifetime is shown (for the most part) just as it should be in a love story--slowly, like melting butter.

But then of course there has to be complications in order to make drama. Considering who the characters are (two gay cowboys in Wyoming and Texas in the 1960s) it's not hard to see where the drama comes from. Of course the characters have to confront their own position in society. Plus they have to confront whatever ambiguous feelings they themselves might feel because of how they were brought up (which Heath Ledger does remarkably well). And, sadly, they have to confront their ruptured family lives, again because of who they are. The actors, in my opinion, did superb in capturing all that conflict.

One of the strengths in this film is the understatement. The time, the place, but most especially the characters are very muted. Heath Ledger is wonderful as a man struggling very hard (and winning) at trying to not allow the emotions to seep through. The kind of world they live in doesn't allow huge dramatics from anyone, least of all a couple of gay men. Consequently, much of the film has to work against itself by trying to make the drama as undramatic as they possibly can. There is much loss, anger, heartbreak, and sadness in this film--but very few "Oscar winning moments."

I think this film captures the best and the worst in all of us. It is amazing when feeling those initial slings of passion when we fall in love. It is degrading and dehumanizing when feeling the heartache and grief that can come from it. That is all here. And anyone who thinks this might be just some novelty because there are so few films with gay characters with such depth should watch this film. It is so much a story of our own fragile heart.

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