Friday, November 23, 2007

Brokeback Mountain

A few weeks ago I finally got to see Brokeback Mountain, the 2005 film directed by Ang Lee, and based on the terrific short story by Annie Proulx. It's the last story in Close Range, her book of short stories set in Wyoming. And hot damn, is it good.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal give powerful performances as Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, who meet when they take summer jobs herding sheep. One maintains the base camp, the other spends the night higher up Brokeback with the sheep, coming down to camp for breakfast and dinner.

One thing, as they say, leads to another, though Ang Lee doesn't rush things. They fall in love. And yes, there's the sex scene. Hot damn, again.

At the end of the summer they go their separate ways; Ennis to his wedding, Jack to the rodeo circuit and eventually south to Texas, where he too marries. Four years go by. Ennis and his wife have two daughters, Jack and his wife, a son. Jack sends Ennis a postcard -- how 'bout a visit? Ennis sends back: You bet. When Jack shows up, they are on fire for each other.

"Friend," said Jack. "We got us a fuckin situation here. Got a figure out what to do."

Well. It's a tragic story, really. And although it's a cliche to say that the location is itself a character in the story, the sense of place in this film is essential. Up the mountain it's so beautiful it hurts to look at; down, it's so bleak you can feel the dust in your own eyes. Or maybe that's my friends' new hi-def TV. In any case the symbolism is important. Up there be love. Down there be life.

Who knew Heath Ledger was this good? Gyllenhaal too. They're both amazing in these roles, as is the supporting cast in theirs. The screenplay is excellent. Not once was I mentally interrupted by a wrong note, as sometimes happens in dramas, something strikes me slightly off and it takes a moment to rationalize or forgive the flaw and get back into the film. Not in this movie; not once.

See it, if you haven't.


  1. Sandy, I think this is one of my all time faves. I saw it when it first came out, and it still haunts me. The shirt in the last scene - I can't get over it.


  2. I don't think I loved a movie quite as much as this one in a very long time.

    I went with my sister, who was so homophobic that she kept talking extra loudly and prefacing everything with "Well, MY HUSBAND says...."