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Tuesday, 15 December 2009

Review: Brokeback Mountain, dir Ang Lee (2005)

Cleanly inverting the classical stereotype of the tough cowboy, the movie presents a series of anguished moments as two gay cowboys negotiate the hostility of a narrow-minded world. When the final tragedy strikes, it's so unexpected it must have been inevitable.

So much has been written about this movie over the years, and so many other productions have found their inspiration in it, that it is almost impossible to be original. Everything you say will be read through a myriad of filters set up by others. Yet it is a good movie.

Heath Ledger as Ennis del Mar is almost too good. Ledger captures the stoic taciturnity of the cowboy who is faced with an image of himself at odds with his world. Growing up as a gay boy in the boondocks must be one of the most terrifying experiences imaginable. The movie makes you want to sing the praises of cities everywhere, which allow for anonymity and seclusion.

As he ages, del Mar doesn't lose his appeal. If anything, he gains kudos for being so forbearing in the face of a cruel existence. Separated from his wife, who witnesses a passionate kiss given to Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhall), del Mar survives in a succession of run-down abodes, each less than the one that came before it.

Twist marries into money, but remains his own obnoxious self throughout the movie.

The laurel must go to Ledger for creating an unforgettable character.

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