Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain


Reviewed by: Darren Amner

Taken from the short story by Annie Proulx, Brokeback Mountain is about forbidden love that, no matter how much you fight it, just won't go away.

Signal, Wyoming is where Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) first meets Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger). From the moment he catches sight of him, intensely inhaling a cigarette, he is captivated by his every move.

Copy picture

Both men are looking for employment and it's when local rancher Joe Aguirre (Randy Quaid) hires them to work as sheepherders up on Brokeback Mountain that a bond forms that can never be broken. Each strives for something more in life. They are hard grafters, but from very different tracks. Day-to-day hunting, drinking and enjoying each other's company helps build camaraderie in such an isolated place where there is no care in the world.

Unexpectedly, after a drunken heavy night of smoking and swilling whisky from the bottle, their relationship gravitates towards something deeper and more intimate.

This typifies an Ang Lee film, the sweeping shots of beautiful landscapes and deft handling of a difficult subject, while keeping a rein on his actors. Visually, it is breathtaking, thanks to cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto, who also worked on 21 Grams and Amores Perros.

Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana's script follows their relationship through summer and winter, until they part ways. Ennis weds his sweetheart Alma (Michelle Williams), with whom he has two daughters, but struggles to scrape a living. Jack, in Texas, meets rodeo queen Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway), while trying to establish himself as a rider. He and Lureen marry and raise a son, as Jack takes care of the family business.

Four years pass before Ennis finally sees Jack again, after a postcard arrives. He waits expectantly for his friend and it's clear the time apart has only strengthened their attachment for each other.

This is more than a gay cowboy movie, aided by a well-written adaptation that features some very funny moments, as the two men try to hide there secret rendezvous from their wives. Both leads give strong performances, especially Ledger, normally cast in handsome, heroic roles. Taking this part was daring and he pulls off his best work since Monsters Ball.

Williams also deserves praise for her portrayal of Alma, the suffering wife left at home to look after the children. She knows the true reason why her husband disappears up to Brokeback to fish with old friend Jack every year, but cannot bring herself to say anything for the sake of the family.

This is an artsy film, overseen by a skilled auteur, starring a mainstream cast, with Dylan Tichenar's soulful guitar soundtrack heightening the emotions. It is surprisingly enjoyable and a guilty pleasure.

Saddle up and take a ride up to Brokeback Mountain. You may discover something special.

Reviewed on: 02 Sep 2005
Share this with others on...
Brokeback Mountain packshot
The illicit love of two cowboys.
Amazon link

Read more Brokeback Mountain reviews:

Chris ****

Director: Ang Lee

Writer: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana, based on a short story by Annie Proulx

Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Valerie Planche, Graham Beckel, Anna Faris, Roberta Maxwell, Peter McRobbie, David Harbour, Kate Mara

Year: 2004

Runtime: 134 minutes

Country: US


Search database: