Alex Worsnip 07/11/2005
The initial tagline that this is a 'gay cowboy movie' does this film a great injustice. Brokeback Mountain is quite simply one of the most stunning films of recent years, dealing with subject matter that reaches far beyond sexuality issues and into relationships, love and life in general. In fact, it's not really a film about 'issues' - it's without political message, and totally non-didactic, so the portentous branding of it as an 'important' film is somewhat misplaced. It's all beautifully shot by director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon), with the American scenery lending it an epic grace (indeed, the film seems classically American despite the potentially unclassical subject matter). The film is always content to use silence, and the performances are tuned to perfection.
The performances are unbelievable: Jake Gyllenhaal, of Donnie Darko fame, is superb as the idealistic, assertive Jack, showing immense range and maturity in being able to play the character over an almost 20 year span which stretches far beyond him own years. Even better is Heath Ledger as his more stoic, rough friend and lover Ennis, a role which he gets inside completely and fully fleshes into something subtle and multi-dimensional. The dynamic between the two is brilliantly played, especially the love scenes, which mix sex and violence to strange but incredibly believable effect. The film is unbelievably poignant, and like all the most genuinely affecting tragedies, you have no side to take because there is no easy way out. Indeed, the domestic heartbreak of Michelle Williams as Ennis' wife is just as affecting as the tragedy of the relationship of the central characters. As near perfect as I've seen in a film for a long time.