Movie Review by Ania Kalinowska
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris
Director: Ang Lee
This is my favourite romantic drama of 2005.
A bold statement to make, I know, considering it’s a film which tracks two cowboys through the struggles of their secretive homosexual relationship. What makes it exceptional is that beyond its captivating story and the all-round talent that made it, there is this storm of a struggle between love and sexuality in a sea of universal emotion and social disapproval. Is this mouthful worth the worry? You bet.
Based on the Annie Proulx prize-winning short story, BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is essentially, yet unconventionally, a love story. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) are confused young men when they first meet; thrown into the depths of a wild passion which is condemned by their own selves, even though it feels natural. Despite them separating and marrying women, their passion still grows into love.
Growth is the keyword here. The duration of the story spans a few decades, enabling both men to develop in character and relationship, a challenge met finely by the actors – especially Heath Ledger whose portrayal of the reserved Ennis creates a festival of silent fireworks throughout the film. The slow pace is also not wasted, allowing the time for this crucial development. Stylistically, everything is wrapped in cinematography as breathtaking as the sparsely worded script is heartbreaking, and a complementary soundtrack which enhances the atmosphere at every turn.
This is yet again powerful, honest, and mature work by chameleon director Ang Lee, who does cowboys as eloquently as he has done crouching tigers, comic-book legends and Jane Austen masterpieces. It is an evocatively tender but at the same time emotively gripping rendering of an otherwise tough subject to get around. Without succumbing to the usual mushy Hollywood cliches, or stagnating on the (potentially shocking) aspect of homosexuality, his style guarantees that this movie soars above and captures the humanity and depth of feeling that leaves an audience in awe. A lesser film would not have moved beyond these hassles.
Movies about love are easily seen. Good movies about love are easily felt. Great movies about love just are. You can quote me on that. This is one of the Greats.