18 December 2005

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain just might be the most romantic movie of the year. It’s got star-crossed lovers and fabulous scenery. The main characters’ lives are entirely ruled by their feelings, although they never speak of them directly—certainly they never use the word love. Ennis (Heath Ledger) hardly utters any words at all, but even voluble Jack (Jake Gyllenhall), whose face nakedly betrays every emotion that passes through him, never says “I love you.”

Of course, they’re guys, so that may explain it.

Ennis and Jack meet as young men, cowboys guarding sheep on Wyoming’s remote Brokeback Mountain. It’s an idyllic, passionate summer, but the job ends early and they separate: Ennis to his fiancé in Riverton, and Jack back to his father’s spread.

In different states Jack and Ennis separately marry and have children, but Jack periodically visits Ennis for “fishing trips” during which they relive that first summer on Brokeback Mountain. Realistic Ennis is unable to abandon his wife and children—and later, after he’s divorced, his dreary and stolid daily life—for an unpredictable and likely dangerous full-time existence with Jack. Ennis can’t forget how he saw a murdered gay rancher when he was a child; he’s sure they’d be found out and killed if they took such a step. Ennis doesn’t know they’ve been found out already—by the boss at Brokeback Mountain (that’s why their job ended early) and by his own wife—regardless, you sense Ennis is right. In the landscape of this movie, there is no place to hide.

Like a novel by Henry James or Edith Wharton, Brokeback Mountain makes you feel the consequences of being unable to live your desires; of believing you have no choice but to suppress your true feelings in order to survive. And it makes you ponder the value of surviving on those terms. Or not. Not everybody can.

Go see this movie.

And bring a lot of tissues.

Filed in:

No comments: