Written by Films

Brokeback Mountain

I’ve got a lot of time for Ang Lee, although I’ll fully admit that I’ve still yet to see The Hulk, but I’m reasonably sure that I’m not missing an awful lot.
Brokeback Mountain is a great return from someone who hasn’t made a proper film since Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Based on a short story that I haven’t read (although I did pick up the copy of Time Out that came bundled with it recently), it tells the story over quite a period of time of two cowboys, who, yes, are gay. Well it’s more complex than that. What we’ve got are two very real people with their complicated lives, and the time they spent together one summer looking after an enormous flock of sheep.
If truth be told, you can see how this is adapted from a short story rather than a full-length novel. But then anyone who’s watched a movie version of a favourite novel will be able to vouch for how much material has to be left out.
The two stars are great, with Jake Gyllenhaal easily better in this than he is in Jarhead. Mind you, he has much more likeable character here. Heath Ledger, on the other hand, is something of a revelation. He puts in an exceptional performance, and despite some slightly dodgy make-up in latter parts of the film when he’s been aged a little, you really understand his situation.
The scenery is spectacular, although I found it ironic that given the film’s Wyoming setting, it was basically all shot in Alberta. It certainly can’t harm the Canadian tourist industry.
Towards the end of the film, you’re never quite sure how things are going to resolve themselves. In reality, they probably wouldn’t until either the men drifted apart, or they became very old. So the way things are wrapped up feels like it was necessary from a short story’s point of view rather than, perhaps, reality. But that shouldn’t detract from an excellent piece of work.