February 08, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

Movie image
Brokeback Mountain
3 out of 5 stars

Considering the hype and award nominations attached to this film, I have to say I was somewhat disappointed.

The performances by the four lead characters are very good, but they're performing their lines whilst running on a very slow treadmill. The plot almost tries not to conform to the Hollywood stereotype, and while this is normally a good thing, Brokeback Mountain struggles because of it.

A critical flaw in the film is that Jack and Ennis' sexual desire is explained clearly on camera, but their obvious love is never explained in the same way. This leaves a cavernous hole in the emotional intensity of the film, as the emotions played out on screen are based on love, not on the sex that Ang Lee prefers to allude to through various (often sheep-related) imagery.

The ending for me was a big disappointment, although I was slightly relieved that it was the end, because the film had gone on too long. Personally I think by ending primarily on Ennis' daughter's journey, the significance of Ennis and Jack's relationship was downplayed. Yes, having your daughter get married is an important moment in your life, but given the relative lack of importance attached to Ennis' children throughout the film, it felt a strange note to end on.

The film is worth seeing, and 3 out of 5 stars is probably being slightly unfair. The first half of the film is beautifully-shot and acted. But the second half of the film doesn't deliver the emotions that you expect it to.

And considering past winners of the Best Picture award at the Oscars, I can't help feeling Brokeback Mountain's inevitable win is unjust.

- 7 comments by 1 or more people Not publicly viewable

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  1. Just had a look at past winners of best picture [over the last 10 years], and including the nominees, it turns out it's hardly ever actually the best picture of the year. Think Titanic, A Beautiful Mind, Chicago, Gladiator.

    08 Feb 2006, 10:50

  2. I think the emotion is there. Yes, it's not clearly stated but it's underlying. Its really very obviously that the two men love eachother. After all, they don't meet up for sex, they meet up for eachothers company – the different between love and lust.

    I think their love is explained quite early on in the film. They are quite violent with eachother, punching and kicking when they realise that they have to leave Brokeback but cannot say what they feel. The emotion is all there.

    Also, i think the whole film ended on the fact that these two men did love eachother. When Ennis finds jack's coat and his shirt tucked away together it is a very powerful moment in the film, especially when you see Ennis later does it himself. The film does show other story lines (like the marriage) but the continous backdrop to the film is, of course, the love story of Ennis and Jack who cannot do anything about their feelings in such a time.

    I thought the film was superb!

    08 Feb 2006, 11:15

  3. Think American Beauty.

    08 Feb 2006, 11:54

  4. Yeah, but that film is beyond Oscar standards!

    08 Feb 2006, 12:09

  5. Perhaps I'm being thick – but can I just ask do you think that both cowboys were bi-sexual? I only ask as they were both obviously attracted to their wives (think about the scene with jack and his girlfriend in teh back of the car etc). This wasn't just a 'public act' to make people think they were 'real cowboys' these were personal intimate moments. So, assuming they were both bi (not homo) sexual – wasn't this an amazing coincidence?
    If the film was trying to make a statement – it failed miserably.

    15 Feb 2006, 10:06

  6. It doesn't sound thick, but does it really matter? What point did you think the film was trying to make? It appeared that in the Midwest at the time [1960s?] men better not live together, which probably wasn't the main statement, but one still valid even if the men were bisexual.

    The attraction to the wives was apparent in Jack's case [indeed the scene in the car was quite obvious] not so in Ennis'. Most of the time, he wasn't interested in his wife even when they were still together. Also, the love for their wives was dwarfed by their lust/love for one another, making it depend on your definition of bisexuality whether or not it's relevant.

    Chris, I tried to trackback your entry, but I rather wanted it to be a review, and didn't see a way to combine trackback and review, so therefore there's just a link in my entry and this comment on yours.

    15 Feb 2006, 17:18

  7. Well in hindsight I got my prediction of Oscar glory rather wrong…

    19 Jan 2007, 00:21

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