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Overall Rating
4.19

Awesome61.9%
Worth A Look: 13.42%
Average: 12.99%
Pretty Bad: 5.19%
Total Crap: 6.49%

17 reviews, 129 user ratings


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Brokeback Mountain
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by EricDSnider

"An aching, poignant love story ... that happens to involve dudes"
5 stars

"Brokeback Mountain" is the story of two people who fall in love with the person they least expected to. In that regard, it is no different from hundreds of other movies about mismatched couples and surprise romances. That the romance is doomed and tragic is not particularly uncommon, either. That it involves two men ... OK, now we're into somewhat less familiar territory. That it's all of those things, plus powerful and moving enough to be one of the best films of the year, is extraordinary.

Ang Lee's poetic, beautifully rendered version of E. Annie Proulx's short story (adapted by "Lonesome Dove's" Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana) is elegant to behold and poignant to contemplate. It's a mournful love story, fraught with unexpressed emotions, sad realities and terrible losses. But when I think about the movie, I smile. The story is told so masterfully, and the emotions evoked so completely, that I'm more overcome by what a good film it is than by how "sad" certain elements of it might be. Plus, there's that final scene, which is so sweet and disarmingly tender....

It is 1963 when Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) meet in Signal, Wyo. The two cowboys are hired by a rancher named Aguirre (Randy Quaid) to take care of his sheep up on Brokeback Mountain for the summer. This puts them in isolation for three months, no human but themselves around for miles.

Ennis is taciturn and stoic, the quintessential Marlboro Man cowboy, down to his guttural voice and squinty eyes. Jack is slightly more talkative and showy, having been a rodeo rider before he came to Wyoming. When Ennis tells Jack a story about his past, Jack says, "That's more words than you've spoken in the last two weeks." Ennis, not given to introspection but here realizing something about himself, smiles and says, "That's more words than I've spoken in the last two years."

It's on a cold night in the tent that it happens. Jack is the instigator, but Ennis does not resist for more than a moment. They have fallen recklessly and violently -- improbably and hopelessly -- in love.

Yet the word "love" is not used. Neither, for that matter, is the word "sex," not until very late in the film (and then it's a synonym). As their relationship continues over the next two decades, parted by geography and their separate marriages and reunited a few times a year for "fishing trips," all they ever call it is "this thing." It IS love, and there is sex involved, but those aren't the words they use to describe it. It's simply "this thing."

What's notable about "Brokeback Mountain" is what's NOT in it. Despite its reputation as a "gay cowboy" movie, there is but one sex scene between the two men, and it occurs fully clothed. Meanwhile, there are three boy-girl sex scenes, and altogether more female nudity than male.

There are also no sociopolitical messages. If the film is nothing more than propaganda for the "gay agenda," as some have suggested, you'd expect there to be speeches where Ennis and Jack decry the current state of affairs and wistfully long for a day when they'll be accepted in society. Yet there's nothing of the kind. Quite the opposite, actually. They acknowledge that if they were to run off together, their living arrangement would be socially unwise and even physically dangerous, and neither of them says that things "ought" to be otherwise. They're cowboys, after all, given to stoicism, not fantasizing or activism. "If you can't fix it, you gotta stand it," Ennis says, his point being that this particular situation cannot be fixed.

The two women in the film are Michelle Williams as Ennis' wife Alma and Anne Hathaway as Jack's wife Lureen. They never meet each other. Jack and Ennis only communicate via postcard, just enough for Jack to say, "Fishing trip in three weeks?" and Ennis to reply, "Sure." Alma is suspicious of the arrangement but terrified to investigate it. Lureen is content to run rough-shod over her husband -- she's a rodeo-rider too -- and to let her austere father do the same.

Gyllenhaal's and Ledger's performances are both subtly brilliant. Neither man's character says much, so they make what dialogue there is rife with import. Body language and facial expressions speak volumes, too, particularly in the way they interact with each other. You can tell by watching them together what their backgrounds are and what roles they play in the relationship: Jack can't please his father, has longings he can't understand, and wishes he had someone he could talk to about it; Ennis is fiercely independent, doesn't brood over his feelings, and often seems "above" the whole sloppy notion of being in love even though he is in fact very deeply in love.

Like all great films, this one finds universal themes in an unusual and specific story. Anyone who has been in love will see himself or herself in Jack or Ennis. Their story has many of the conventions of a typical troubled-relationship movie, translated into the language of two cowboys who are at a loss to explain what has happened to them.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12764&reviewer=247
originally posted: 12/16/05 17:54:35
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2005 Toronto Film Festival For more in the 2005 Toronto Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/06/17 Barbara Leaf Very good movie and well acted. Not wordy but emotional. I would see it again. 5 stars
9/13/17 morris campbell good film told with class a good gay film 4 stars
11/15/16 Heather Ackland What a load of crap. Unrealistic and bad gay film in every way. YUK. O/10 1 stars
12/29/11 David Hollingsworth More than just a "gay cowboy" movie. 5 stars
7/26/10 JustMe my favorite movie,it's just amazing,i cry every single time i watch it 5 stars
6/08/10 User Name A daring, and successful, film from Ang Lee. 4 stars
5/16/10 Linda Thank you. I thought I was the only one who felt this way! Cinematography 10; chemistry 2. 2 stars
1/25/10 babette REAL gays: See Irreversible's Le Rectum club scenes 1 stars
8/06/09 Tim Can't even hear the music without the welling of tears. Perfection. 5 stars
6/19/09 steven One of the most amazing films ever... only redneck men don't like it,Wonder why! 5 stars
4/11/09 K. Sear A choppy flow and unrealized plot make a disappointing film. 2 stars
4/05/09 Alfonso Turnage Awesome 5 stars
1/31/09 hardfact gay story about a predator praying on a confused minor 1 stars
1/15/09 FrankNFurter Homophobic twats, perch and rotate...this film is absolutely brilliant! 5 stars
1/08/09 =] i don't support homosexuality, but i still loved this film. 5 stars
11/27/08 little Red Heath Ledger is smoken in this movie 5 stars
11/11/08 L.Padilla They should of titled the movie,"Booty call in Brokeback Mountain" 2 stars
10/30/08 Wendell O. Maness As a former California resident, I loved this gay awareness show 5 stars
8/30/08 PAUL SHORTT LUSH SCENERY ENCIRCLES TWO LACONIC CHARACTERS IN THIS STATIC AND REPUGNANT FILM 1 stars
7/19/08 yes Gayest movie I never saw... I'm certain it sucked major balls... Quite literally. 1 stars
6/29/08 Chris Yeah, bad "aging" make-up. But that's it's only flaw - a beautiful, poignant, moving film. 5 stars
5/14/08 Ros So perfect...so real....so tragic...so unforgettable...so haunting 5 stars
4/28/08 Totir Alexandru I recently saw this movie and after Heath passed away it was very hard to watch it. (RIP) 5 stars
4/03/08 Mr Honest God help our country when this crap is "art"! 1 stars
3/08/08 David Cohen Poignant without being exploitative, a first class love story 5 stars
1/11/08 misty overly vomit producing 1 stars
12/08/07 Sam Eli It's not just the "gay cowboy movie" It's excellently acted, haunting and it resonates 5 stars
11/22/07 Kevin A mountain-top experience! 5 stars
10/24/07 Wendell O. Maness I loved it, its sensitive, manly and loving to gays 5 stars
8/05/07 ravenmad it surprised me~beautiful and sad. It's not about sex. 4 stars
7/16/07 Hello Stranger incredibly depressing film. the love between them is so intense and beautiful 5 stars
6/28/07 gr117 Depressing yet beautiful 5 stars
6/18/07 Danielle Ophelia This film will gut you. And you'll be glad it did. 5 stars
5/24/07 Josh Bergin TThis movie was great for the gay community. 5 stars
5/07/07 David Pollastrini didn't think much of it. 3 stars
3/01/07 THE REAL DEAL Cornelius did all his own stunts 2 stars
2/19/07 Nick Maday I thought it was over-praised, but still decent, if not completely depressing. 3 stars
1/29/07 Lisa Craven OMG. talk about rough sex. But seriously, a touching movie, kind of depressing, but try it. 4 stars
1/23/07 del i love it as much as starwars,especially the men 5 stars
1/18/07 Becca Only people too stupid to get it don't like this film- and that is the truth. 5 stars
11/14/06 Ernest Alba Well, its three Oscars didn't convince me. The movie did. This is an amazing film. 5 stars
11/14/06 Mark A little slow, but a great film 5 stars
10/01/06 tips if it was about man/woman relationship it would have gotten no attention because it sucks 1 stars
9/16/06 rwelsh Gay just a straw man, the offense-A guy who threatens a pregnant girl to live a lie 1 stars
9/07/06 Albert unless you are a woman, I would pass on this one... 1 stars
8/19/06 Verrine Excellent, but not worthy of awards. Gorgeous scenery. 4 stars
8/19/06 Cosmic Conundrum Apart from the direction, acts etc., the background Score and locales took my breath away. 5 stars
8/10/06 Dragon The Artist "Its probably not too bad",says my gut, but I'm sick of hearing about the stupid sex scene! 3 stars
8/05/06 CTT Overpraised; "Same Time Next Year" with the spouses played by actresses 4 stars
7/23/06 chris f this is the most romantic and best film ever 5 stars
6/30/06 Jerry Great movie, unless you have no taste. 5 stars
6/27/06 Kimberly Not a good movie in the least. 1 stars
6/18/06 Dave the truth is out,Film critics were sent big checks along with their invitation to see this 1 stars
6/14/06 Lisa Same as most 'gay' flicks - a complete let down 1 stars
6/12/06 Alex H. Who reads Filmview, anyway? 5 stars
6/09/06 Mitch This is the movie that Filmview magazine calls "awful" and "the worst film of 2005" 1 stars
6/09/06 dani Undeserved praise? Yeah, okay. Fantastic movie. 5 stars
5/29/06 jeanne Profoundly sad, gorgeous, hearbreaking - Bravo, everybody! 5 stars
5/28/06 Jethro This is so awful it makes plan 9 from outer space look like oscar material! 1 stars
5/23/06 Agent Sands A painfully heartfelt film. One of my top favorite love stories ever. 5 stars
5/13/06 Indrid Cold Aside from the undeserved praise just for tackling the subject, it's still pretty good. 4 stars
5/08/06 Diane Perkins excellent both in story and cinematography. Leaves you thinking for days. 5 stars
4/28/06 Annie G I thought I would love this movie, but the casting and editing werejust awful! 3 stars
4/22/06 Phil M. Aficionado brilliantly written and executed in all respects, starting with the casting 5 stars
4/22/06 Pat Frederick Really loved this movie. The storyline, the actors. Tremendous movie! 5 stars
4/17/06 millersxing Made with such dignity from all involved, Brokeback is a difficult film to dislike. 3 stars
4/13/06 San Lamar Good 4 stars
4/11/06 Frank Gavin Not just a "gay cowboy movie," but in fact an "epic gay cowboy movie." 5 stars
4/10/06 the untrained eye Bad aging make-up Mountain 3 stars
4/07/06 malcolm great film. girlfriend made me watch it. glad she did. 5 stars
4/06/06 Troy M. Grzych The film is well crafted and acted, but not Oscar worthy. 4 stars
3/23/06 Saif Khan A beautifully crafted, supremely acted piece of cinema 5 stars
3/15/06 Shannon Robles i could watch this movie again and again, this deserved the oscar! 5 stars
3/13/06 Hydrogen Very nice. Maybe a tad over-rated, but still very touching. 5 stars
3/10/06 Nicole Overrated. I think that explains it all. 2 stars
3/08/06 Piz great filmaking but wayyy overated. Left a lot to be desired 3 stars
3/04/06 Green Gremlin Ang Lee more than atones for his "Hulk" fiasco !!! 5 stars
3/02/06 tillerman this was the best movie i have seen in a long long time 5 stars
3/02/06 chris f biker bob is a fool this movie is great 5 stars
2/27/06 Monday Morning Reviewer Cornelius doesn't get "understated"; he needs car chases.This film was outstanding 5 stars
2/22/06 Danny If this doesn't win the Oscar, something's wrong. Awsome in every way. 5 stars
2/20/06 Max Gay people CAN love, why is gay sex still portayed as 'violent' and 'messy' ?? 5 stars
2/14/06 ana very good film, explains a lot about them (homosexsuals) 5 stars
2/10/06 Shelly Breekinan My heart ached with this film.........a real "ground breaker" Loved it twice! 5 stars
2/06/06 Deanna save "disgrace" for your hero Pat Robertson. This is a love of a movie 5 stars
2/05/06 Richard Watts A subtle masterpiece of visual narrative 5 stars
2/05/06 Shawn Gadberry Too much hype can ruin your viewing-Great movie but very subtle in its powerfulness 5 stars
2/04/06 Lewis Rappaport A superb hearbraking film that accurately portrays its time and place. 5 stars
1/31/06 Agent Sands Perfect. An important contribution to cinema. 5 stars
1/30/06 Caiphn I guess I don't get it. 2 stars
1/29/06 Sam It is better to have loved and lost... 5 stars
1/27/06 D.Lara Awesome film, tear jerker, its a must see! 5 stars
1/25/06 Mel in NY Amazing and quite sad. I loved it! 5 stars
1/22/06 CJ Peace The movie was very good but it lacked a little "something", not sure what. Ledger was great 4 stars
1/22/06 Anita I thought the movie was over-rated. It needed a good editing. 3 stars
1/22/06 Molly I loved it! 5 stars
1/21/06 orpament just not that great 3 stars
1/20/06 paul movie stayed with me for days 5 stars
1/20/06 Howard Maki great story line 5 stars
1/19/06 phillip Wright Brokeback Mountain deserves all of the praises it receives. best film I have ever seen 5 stars
1/18/06 Deanna Heartbreaking Beautiful 5 stars
1/18/06 Nicky LOVE! 5 stars
1/17/06 Agent Sands Ang Lee doesn't let one frame seem dull. This is a true masterwork. 5 stars
1/17/06 Rob Quite simply the most beautiful film to come out of the US in years 5 stars
1/15/06 chris f a great and touching movie 5 stars
1/14/06 Mario Izigson a masterpiece 5 stars
1/14/06 anonymous The reviewer respectfully doesnt get it, but was respectful at least. Wish comment room 5 stars
1/12/06 jcjs beautiful, real, great acting, wow photography, not for the homophobes, fine masterpiece 5 stars
1/12/06 Jim The Movie Freak One of the most overrated films of the past few years. It's just another love story. 3 stars
1/11/06 H.S. not as daring as made out to be, but great 5 stars
1/11/06 Denis Breathtaking, extremely moving 5 stars
1/09/06 Deanna from Indiana touching beautiful, if you cannot relate, you have no heart 5 stars
1/09/06 Florence Awsome, wonderful love story. It stayed with me for days. I will have to see it again. 5 stars
1/08/06 Elizabeth Pretty, poignant. . .unattainable love is relatable to all. 4 stars
1/08/06 Marilyn Loved the movie. We needed a movie like this 5 stars
1/06/06 sc The best movie I've seen this year. Beautiful, moving. 5 stars
1/05/06 Gayle James agree with David Cornelius movie did not have enough 'romance' between the men so who cares 3 stars
1/05/06 Denis How can anyone trust a review that can't even get its own facts right? Alberta, not Wyomin 5 stars
1/01/06 BrianWilly Beautiful movie about a beautiful thing. 5 stars
12/30/05 TheOthersFan heartbreaking, not so terribly different from the tragic starcrossed-lovers romance 5 stars
12/27/05 Daniel Camacho The film speaks for its self, a classic 5 stars
12/25/05 Hoof Hearted Heath's acting, Ang's direction make for the movie of a lifetime 5 stars
12/25/05 Frédéric Jake and Ennis play great roles, just change the names and genders for your own story 5 stars
12/22/05 BoyInTheDesignerBubble Cool flick. Not everyone is in PFLAG. 5 stars
12/21/05 Jonathan emotionally stirring....an amazing film 5 stars
12/20/05 Paterfam001@yahoo.ca How come they couldn't get a little fishing in as well? 3 stars
10/01/05 sbcspin Took the top prize at Venice for a reason. It's amazing. 5 stars
9/20/05 Don Halbert One of the best movies I've seen in years. Genuine characters evoke strong feelings. 4 stars
9/16/05 Skptc2 Tad lengthy 4 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  09-Dec-2005 (R)
  DVD: 23-Jan-2007

UK
  N/A

Australia
  26-Jan-2006




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