Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Review: Brokeback Mountain

"Jack fuckin' Twist."

That's what Ennis call his lover after 4 years of separation. Then they hugged each other and make out. Yes, it's the "gay cowboy" film that everyone's talking about.

All the brouhaha surrounding this film since awards season until now made me just have to watch it. It has become the most honoured film in history, winning more Best Film title than any other film., although it did lost out to Crash for the Best Picture Oscar. Not that I must watch Best Picture movies everytime they came out, I'm just curious as to whether it lives up to the hype (plus I also like to watch films that are banned here :P). Since when did a gay film caught so much attention?

So I grabbed a copy of Brokeback Mountain DVD along with some other Best Picture Oscar nominees while I was at Wangsa Maju, and watched with Alex that night.

As you would've probably knew the plot from other countless reviews, I'll skip it here. The original story is very veryshort, only about 40 pages (I read the book, so i know), and with a very unique narrative, simultaneously funny and melodramatic. So the 2 hour plus film added some dialogues and characters to fill out the missing links. Some of the scenes go for few minutes without a word spoken but the shots are beautiful. The landscapes, clouds, thousands of sheeps being herded to the mountain are captured with great cinematography. (although later I do learn that there are some CGI involved, but as long as it's well done, hey, who cares?)

The musical score is simply yet beautiful and are soothing listen, with mostly acoustic guitar work with a country twang, although I have to complain that they are quite repetitive throughout the duration. But it WILL grow on you and stuck there in your head.

This film is about love, passion, companionship, belonging, and it wouldn't be what it is without the great performances from the actors.

Jake Gyllenhaal, compare him here with his other films and you'll see that this is his best work. It's very subtle to notice, but he really nailed the character based on my reading on the book.

Anne Hathaway is just OK, but I'll give her credits for finally breaking the teen movie mold (and for showing her breast for that ONE SECOND...haha).

Michelle Williams is in a brief and small part, but is memorable in a few scenes, especially her last one.

And finally, Heath Ledger. For his performance, I have only to say, WOW. Looking him, you'd forget that this is the same guy who was in A Knight's Tale. In fact, I totally forgot that he was in The Brothers Grimm last year. He just completely immersed in the character and you will only remember Ennis Del Mar after finish watching the film. That's how powerful it is. Witness his and Gylenhaal's last scene together when they are about to leave Brokeback Mountain and have an argument.

Jack: "I wish I knew how to quit you."

Ennis: "Then why don't you just let me be huh? It's because of you Jack that I'm like this...Nowhere, nothing."

Totally powerful. That's when my mom remarked that they are in love for love and not for sex. (watched with my mom on 2nd viewing)

The film IMO also has some themes and social commentary going on, but are well hidden in layered dialogues. Themes of surpression of feelings, social prejudice and unconditional love are just some of it. It also makes one wonder whether is it wrong to love another person of the same gender not because of physical sex but because of the companionship, bond and trust that they share (FYI, Ennis is not homosexual, it's just that the person he loves and cares most happens to be a guy). Ang Lee really deserves the Oscar for his direction, because it simply is a very well directed piece that brings out the story and the casts' acting chops.

Watch this film. Download, pirate DVDs, whatever. Even if you have no interest, watch for the cinematography and score. But I doubt anyone wouldn't be slightly interested.

Brokeback Mountain has inspired an Internet phenomenon known as re-cut trailers, but with a gay twist. If you have the chance, watch Brokeback to The Future and Bareback Mountain, 2 well known parodies. I watch it when I have the chance.

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