As I've mentioned a number of times over the years, I consider myself a romantic (at least at heart). Give me a potent love story where, to quote myself, “two lonely human beings bind themselves in this cold chaos we call life and stand united till death do them part” and I'll eat it up with tears glistening at the corners of my eyes. And on principle, I am an equal opportunity romantic- man and woman (Last of the Mohicans), two men (Angels in America, Philadelphia), two women (obviously), woman and giant gorilla – it's all good to me. Ang Lee's Brokeback Mountain exists as if to say, “you thought you knew the boundaries of who can fall in love, well you ain't seen nothing yet.” It is safe to say that the general public is aware that Mountain tells the story (although “story” is being generous) of two macho, whiskey swigging, chain smoking cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) who meet as young men while herding sheep in Wyoming and engage in a life long, somewhat closeted love affair. There is really not much more to the movie than that . Sure, we get the scenes with respective spouses confused and distraught, and some plot points unique to each lead, but the film is content to make one statement and send you home: two rugged men showing no overt signs of homosexuality can love each other and only each other – and this love will express itself physically – and this physical expression will not emanate from loneliness or desperation or lack of choice, but rather from a deep, genuine emotional connection. Now, I guess you can buy that or not and regardless of whether you choose to, it certainly makes for provocative cinema. However, if you don't buy it, and there are many reasons not to (and unfortunately the movie does not do enough to persuade otherwise) the film proves utterly irrelevant. What will remain relevant regardless of whether cowboys bond in such a way, is the eloquent direction of Lee and the vivid performance by Ledger (Gyllenhaal, as the more effeminate of the two, ironically named Jack Twist, is less convincing as a Texas rodeo novice). Ledger turns in outstanding work and despite my previously stated misgivings about the particular chemistry evoked here, he manages to convey a passionate, palpable desire for, if not his alleged lover Twist, for something that he is deeply missing.
The danger with a movie like this is that audiences and critics will champion its artistic merit purely based on its controversial content. The liberal body of big city film journalists will (and have begun to already) shallowly (almost subconsciously) decide that what they have seen is great – because why else would two mainstream studs subject themselves to such scrutiny unless Ang Lee was knocking this one out of the park? Lee also made the abominable Hulk remember. Another reason for Mountain's accolades, sadly, is that in our society being labeled homophobic is like being called a witch in Salem.. A line needs to be drawn very clearly with Brokeback Mountain. It is a very daring and good movie, not a very good and daring one.
A romantic can't help but revere the concept of forbidden love and pity those ensnared in its clutches. Forbidden love has bee depicted many times and in many ways, and writer Annie Proulx has simply come up with a new, shocking one. The pain and involvement for audiences experiencing forbidden love on screen, however, rest entirely in the degree with which they can believe in that love in the first place