Monday, June 30, 2014
Indie Review: Brokeback Mountain (2005)
'Brokeback Mountain': A Quietly Devastating Meditation On Same-Sex Love
Before Brokeback Mountain came into the picture, there were doomed romance pictures dealing with opposite-sex couples. But this film brilliantly shows that couples of the same sex undergo harsh struggles like heterosexual ones do, but in a rather different manner and it shows us this by hardly showing anything at all.
Brokeback Mountain follows two cowboys named Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) who fall in love when going up to the titular mountain for a job at a local ranch. Eventually, they go on to marry women and have children, only to meet at Brokeback Mountain from time to time. As they become more separated, it begins to take a toll on each of them, but in different ways.
What I Liked About It:
What I thought was incredibly amazing about this film was how it talks about a social movement, but unlike most films that talk about social movements or issues, does it in a more quiet way that doesn't make it seem too "on the nose". What I mean is it demonstrates how society is discriminative of homosexuals without having a character used as a plot device or whatnot to tear the main characters apart. The film just showcases the romance between these two men and then just going their separate ways because they fear what other people would say if they were caught holding hands. It really makes you feel some type of emotion and that is what artistic films are meant to do. As I always say, the point of films used as art is to get some type of emotion out of you and that is exactly what this amazing film does.
I also thought that the performances from the two leads were quite brilliant. Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal have brilliant chemistry yet once they get into a conflict, the film becomes devastating to watch. Even though these are two characters that society thinks shouldn't be together, I wanted them to be together. I wanted to see these two men find the kind of happiness that opposite-sex couples do. But one actress that I would like to acknowledge is Michelle Williams, who plays Ledger's wife Alma. Williams brilliantly showcases what her character is going through without having to actually say anything as her performance lives in her eyes. It's like her character is yet isn't an antagonist as she quietly separates her husband from the man he loves. Anne Hathaway, who plays Gyllenhaal's wife Lureen, is also quite good even though she honestly wasn't given a whole lot of screen time.
Another thing that was brilliant was the direction from Ang Lee. He really creates a rather quiet feel, with the low use of music as well as the isolated setting, the filming of the actors physically showcasing their emotions without the use of dialogue, and the implicit demonstration of discrimination against homosexuality, but I give him a lot of credit for that. Lee's heavy use of restraint really creates a captivating feel.
What I Didn't Like About It:
Overall, Brokeback Mountain is a brilliant yet quiet meditation on a blissful yet conflicted romance. It has amazing performances from the cast, fantastic direction, and despite dealing with a social issue, does it in a less patronizing manner. This one might make some viewers uncomfortable because of the sexual content, but I would still say give it a watch because it might make you develop a new perspective on homosexuality.