Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Retro Movie Review: "Brokeback Mountain"

One of the most talked about movies in 2005, Brokeback Mountain tells the story of two ranchhands/rustlers who fall in love and struggle to be "normal" in a world that would frown upon their relationship. Brokeback became the punchline for 2005, with it's portrayal of gay cowboys and the line "I wish I knew how to quit you." It was held up as a quiet masterpiece and praised heavily. It was supposed to win the Best Picture Oscar (it lost to Crash). With time, how does the movie hold up? Was it worth the awards fever in the first place?

No. The film is very flimsy. The opening 45 minutes, which sets up the love story, is cliched at best. It exhibits all the well known themes a "Forbidden Love" plot will have. The picture never really shows Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) falling in love with each, just them palling around, until they have to share a tent, and the suddenly the "Tension" is released. But there never feels to be any tension in the first place! Then, as they have to part ways at the end of that summer, of course Jack sees Ennis walk away in his rearview mirror, and of course Ennis has to find an alleyway to cry in. The rest of the movie unfolds as you expect: a push and pull between the two men and them trying to build a family life, but it crumbling around them.

Even the acting is average at best: Ledger's accent comes off all wrong, making him sound 10 years older than he should be. Gyllenhaal whines a bit too much. The supporting actresses, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway are clearly meant to be eye-candy, window dressing to the main characters and their characters add very little, except plot points. The movie wants to be a character study and a plot-driven film, but fails at both.

Brokeback Mountain is really just a "meh" movie. It tries to be artsy and well-made because of its subject matter, but it loses itself in its self-importance. There are periods in the movie where no dialogue is spoken, which doesn't work in a film like this. It just suffers from the hype that surrounds it and the thought that a film of this nature must be a good movie.

2 1/2 Jon Stewart Jokes out of 5



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