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TOP 100 MOVIES in 2005!
A ranch hand named Ennis Del Mar (Heath ledger) and a rodeo cowboy named Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet in the summer of 1963 while working a job at Brokeback Mountain, and unexpectedly forge a lifelong connection. They keep their love hidden from the world, and meet up occasionally throughout the years. Eventually, their secret takes an emotional toll on both men, but the fear of society’s wrath keeps them forever apart. Based on the short story by Annie Proulx.
In discussing the best films of 2005, one cannot overlook BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN. And given the fact that this film was a supposed shoe in to win Best Picture that year, but instead lost to the inferior CRASH, it now lies in the hands of history to see if this film will endure. I think it will.
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN really does deserve all the praise that was heaped upon it when it was released. And no, it's not because it was "risky" or because it "pushed its gay theme into the mainstream limelight." BROKEBACK simply would not have gotten half the hype it acquired if the main characters were a man and a woman. The flick received so much attention because the two main guys happen to like kissing each other on the mouth, and also because they happen to be wearing cowboy hats, which is pretty ridiculous if you ask me.
I remember reading things like: "the Western cowboy is THE definitive, primal image of American manhood and this movie turns that image on its ear." No, it really doesn't. There’s nothing controversial about it. Trust me...the American Cowboy is "safe.” Mainstream fare such as THE BIRDCAGE and IN AND OUT are a hundred times more "gayer" and flamboyant in five minutes than this movie is during its entire running time. BROKEBACK is a subdued and realistic depiction of homosexuality, but there’s way more to focus on. The movie is so much more than just the “gay cowboy movie” it became known as.
BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN is a well-made, old-fashioned romance that really gets to the heart of its characters. It is also a great example of effective screenwriting. This is how to tell a succinct story, how to choose the right things to have your characters do and say, within a limited time frame. Now, since I am not gay, I cannot identify with one man’s love for another man. And I’ll be honest, I was wondering if the movie wouldn’t connect with me because of this reason. However, I CAN identify with two people, two kindred souls, who establish a bond and fall in love but feel that they can't be together due to the short-sightedness of society. That’s the point of view from which I approached this movie, and it worked.
Director Ang Lee is the master of telling stories that center around repressed people, and he tells this particular story with the same sure hand he has displayed in the past. Lee weaves in so many details, and employs such subtlety in every scene that you can’t help but be entranced by this film. The varied details add up to make this a truly resonant love story.
It also helps that the performances are so heartfelt, especially by the two leads. If we didn’t believe that these two guys were really, truly in love, then nothing else would matter. The film’s emotional honesty is exemplified perfectly during a scene near the end in which Jack explodes at Ennis by a lake, the weight of their secret and the unfairness of their situation having finally reached its breaking point. It’s a masterful scene, and the earnestness with which it’s acted and directed are key in making us feel for these men.
The late Heath ledger in particular was absolutely mesmerizing as Ennis Del Mar in this film. His low voice, his stiff demeanor, his explosive temper...his entire performance was a fascinating example of coiled repression, of someone who is uncomfortable in his own skin and only lets his guard down around the one person he feels safe with. If this year’s DARK KNIGHT was not a clear indication of how talented Ledger was, then BROKEBACK is certainly further evidence of that fact. The man could have been one of the greats; he will be missed.My favorite scenes in the movie were the ones in which these two guys just simply sit around and enjoy each other’s company. I loved how getting Ennis to open up was like pulling teeth for Jack. I love the snippets of back story that they would reveal to each other. I love the looks of true pain that would enter their eyes when they would have to part company again. And of course, I love the touching, now-familiar score. As I said, it’s the details that make this movie stick with you.
The story covers about 20-odd years in these men's lives, and the jumps through time can be quite jarring, but are never confusing. We blaze through the story (sometimes there are five to six year gaps between scenes), but we learn something new every time we are with these characters. However, the story does slow down when it needs to, and explores these two men and their relationship to a satisfying degree. There is not one wasted moment in the movie's entirety, not one scene that should have been longer or should have been trimmed. Additionally, we get a good sense of the supporting cast, even if a certain character appears on screen for only seconds at a time (such as Ennis’s daughter and his "rebound" female love interest). It's all there in the writing and acting.
We are shown chunks of these people’s lives, and who they are at a particular time and place. We can clearly see how these guys' love for each other evolved, and how their marriages deteriorated as a result, because the writing and directing come together perfectly. The right things are said, authentic-feeling actions are performed, and we believe every minute of it.
If I had to sum this film up in just one word, it would be “heartbreaking.” BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN makes it plainly clear that you should hold on to what is most dear to you, a conceit which is depicted quite literally and effectively in its final scene. If there was ever a cinematic case made for declaring your love from high atop a mountain when you find it, this move is it. Regret is the worst thing you can feel when you think back on your life, and BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN implores you to love to the fullest. It may be a simple thing to try and impart, one that I am repeating now in clichéd words, but it’s certainly a message that few films have been able to convey as beautifully.