I’m rather ashamed to say that I’d forgotten just how beautiful this film is. Both visually and narratively [which I don’t think is a word, well it is now!]. Everyone knows it as a the ‘gay cowboy’ movie. It is so much more than that. If you already have that thought in your head then you probably won’t appreciate this film very much. If you are to watch this film for the first time, keep an open mind and your homophobia out the door.
You only see about three scenes of real homophobia. However, you do get glimpses of homophobia in a whole lot of scenes. What I mean by glimpses is that the homophobic behavior isn’t huge and it isn’t directed at neither Jack nor Ennis. The three scenes are the flashback to the man Ennis‘s dad shows him, Joe Aquirre’s reaction to Jack wanting work after he saw him and Ennis ’passing the time’ on the mountain and the one at the end which I don‘t want to say even though me saying that has probably given it away!
Our first shot is of the scenery. The scenery plays such a key role in this movie. There are quite a few shots that are either completely scenery or over 2/3s. Ang Lee uses a technique which I love; only having the characters take up a small part of the screen, and I mean a small part, like they’re a dot or something. You never forget where these characters are. Brokeback Mountain is a character in itself. It’s the character that brings Ennis and Jack together. Its so stunningly beautiful that it would make you fall in love too. Add the charming music of acoustic guitar and orchestral strings and you’d probably fall in love with the nearest object.
We have the boys first meeting, I think they’re supposed to be about 19 or something. Anyway, they’re together, looking at each other [kind of, Ennis is mainly looking at the ground] and you can already see sparks. [Cowboy] hats off to the pair of actors; Jake Gyllenhaal and Heath Ledger. I honestly don’t think two other men could of done those roles. They have such fantastic chemistry that makes you completely believe in them and sense the love without their speech. A lot of their love isn’t expressed through words [Ennis isn’t that great with words!] and you can still feel it. The characters are also not your stereotypical ‘gays’ [though its pretty obvious they’re not gays and that they’re bisexual] as there’s no campness or femininity that is often associated with homosexuals. They’re just two normal men who fell in love, no Elton John or Cher needed. They also portray the characters in such a wonderful way that you know all about their character after just a few seconds of them talking. We see their first talking scene to each other and we know all about their characters; Ennis is the strong silent type which is probably due to his parents death and Jack is the talkative lovable one.
The two characters are up in the mountains and their love blossoms in a very realistic way. They don’t just think “oo, I must be gay, lets get it on”. There’s struggle, there’s confusion and inner conflict. As they realize their feelings for one another, they both produce different feelings towards it. You have Ennis who is first in denial then he accepts it but is very cautious about it. This is because of a man his dad showed him and therefore knows that if they lived together, in this world and time, they’d surely get killed. Jack embraces it very quickly, almost like he’d expected it or felt it for most of his life. He really doesn’t care what anyone else thinks, as long as they’re together and happy. You have the serious, realistic partner and the helpless romantic partner, the two sides that every story needs. There’s a scene that I think captures what they do to each other in terms of how they make the other person act. Ennis talks about… erm… actually, I’ve forgotten what he talks about but Jack smiles at him and Ennis is like “what?” and Jack replies, still smiling; “Friend, that’s more words than you’ve spoken in the past two weeks.” Ennis smiles back and says “hell, that’s the most I’ve spoke in a year.” Jack brings out the sociable side of Ennis, and also manages to get him to open up to Jack which, to Jack, is the greatest thing of all. Its pretty obvious from the start that Jack worships the ground Ennis walks on and its so adorable!
Obviously, I can’t review this movie without mentioning certain tent scenes. The first one is interesting and you may have to tilt your screen to actually see what’s happening. Its something that would probably shock people as its nothing, I don’t think, most of them have ever seen before. I think I should stop commenting on that scene now. Onto the next tent scene which is filled with a little more romance! This is scene shows just how insecure Ennis is yet how willingly he is to get help in accepting his love. Jake as Jack has this face that he pulls that it just so full of love that you half expect hearts to float around it. So much in that second tent scene is said without actual words. Their actions and facial expressions say it all. Jack does whisper to Ennis that its OK as words of comfort which just adds to the love!
Another example of how far these men have come is when Jack touches Ennis’s cheek after many years of them meeting. The first time Jack did that, when Ennis had hurt himself and was bleeding, Ennis nudged him away and tried to clean himself up. The second time we see Jack stroke Ennis’s cheek again, Ennis lets him and takes great comfort in it. It was very cleverly done, so clever that I’d only just spotted it and I’ve seen this film about 8 times. Further more, there was another scene which was a flashback that I felt gave another insight to these men’s love. In the flashback, Jack is standing by the fire and is almost falling asleep. Ennis comes up and hugs him from behind, muttering about how he was sleeping standing up like a horse and then starts to hum a little tune him mum used to do for him. Jack is so relaxed and at ease in the arms of Ennis. It’s an envious sight, I can tell you now. Exquisite, but makes you envy them and their love.
There is so much more that I could review about, such as the brilliant use of make-up and costume to have them all age and the fabulous performances by the ladies Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway but I’m feeling a little tired and my fingers are starting to hurt from writing notes and typing! Just take my word for it, they were amazing. I’d love love LOVE to end about talking about the ending scene which, in my opinion, is one of the most beautiful and loving scenes I’ve ever seen that always makes my eyes water and my chin wobbly but I feel that it would ruin the ending for those who haven’t seen the movie. And it all ends on a sentence that isn’t quite finished yet it doesn’t need to be;
“Jack, I swear…”
RIP Heath Ledger, gone but never forgotten.