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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 MP Bartley

"Broken-Backed Drama."
3 stars

If, as expected, Brokeback Mountain truimphs at the Oscars in a few weeks time, it'll be seen as a victory for liberalism as an openly gay drama in Hollywood receives massive critical acclaim. They key to this success is the fact that Ang Lee hasn't resorted to sensationalism or attention-grabbing headlines, he's told this story in a poignant, understated manner. The trouble is, that it's too understated for its own good.

Jack (Jake Gyllenhall) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) are two unemployed ranchers who manage to find work on Brokeback mountain, in Wyoming, doing some ranching and sheep handling. Jack is the more forward out of the two, happy to keep the conversation going, while teasing out details from the more introspective Ennis. One particularly cold night however, they resort to sharing the tent to keep warm, when in an unexpected fit of passion, they begin to kiss and have sex. Thus begins a love affair not even halted when both marry and have children. Instead, it continues over the next two decades, as they meet monthly to have their illicit trysts on Brokeback.

For all the sniggers and rumours that accompanied the initial opening and release of 'Brokeback Mountain' Lee has made a film that is nowhere near as graphic as first thought. He isn't interested in the physical details of the relationship, but the feelings and emotions instead. However, in making a film where the emotions are so buttoned down and repressed, Lee forgets that that's all well and good, as long as there's a release by the end. Making grand melodramatic statments throughout would have ruined the tone of the film, but there's not even the emotional climax that the film needs. Instead, we have Ennis struggle and fail to sum up his emotions at the end. Having watched him do this throughout the previous two hours however, means that instead of nodding with sympathy, we're asking "Well is he going to finish that sentence or not?". It even extends to a phone call where a very important development is related and reacted to in such an off-hand manner, it's like someone has called to cancel a shopping order.

The film is dramatically stunted in other ways too. Ennis states at the beginning that he's marrying his girl, Alma (Michelle Williams), when he returns home. When he does however, the couple look miserable already. Indeed, as the film progresses we realise that Ennis wants a stay at home wife, and would have probably strayed with someone else anyway. It would have been much more impactful if the love between Ennis and Jack had ruined what was destined to be a happy marriage for Ennis and Alma. This dramatic confusion is mirrored in Jack's marriage to Lureen (Anne Hathaway). We're never sure why they've married, although I think a good guess is that it was a shotgun marriage, as Lureen jumps Jack's bones the first chance she gets, with a baby the result the next time we see them. This leads to the best scene in the film, as Jack clashes with his father-in-law over a football match during dinner. It's just a shame that it lacks the right build up to explain just why this clash happens - it's never commented upon again.

Despite this, 'Brokeback Mountain' is certainly not a bad film. The opening 25 minutes are wonderful, capturing the dull details of a ranchers life, while Lee frames it against the majestic beauty of Wyoming - although, in fairness, how could anyone screw that up? It's nature, Steven Sommers could probably keep it looking beautiful.

Gyllenhall is as great as we'd predict and he and Heath make their relationship never less than believable, even if we never truly believe that there's a burning love deep within these men. It's Ledger however, gaining the plaudits, and rightly so, proving all his naysayers wrong. In the less showy role, Ledger doesn't have much to say, yet says it all, with his guarded eyes and awkward body language and speech suggesting a man with a painful well of sadness within him. It's thanks to Gyllenhall and Ledger that 'Brokeback Mountain' has an air of poignancy throughout, that draws you into the drama despite Lee's best efforts to neuter it.

Williams tries her best as Alma, but her character doesn't change from one scene to the next, while Hathaway is made to suffer under some truly ridiculous wigs to indicate the passage of time.

It's an irony that the film suffers as much as the main characters whenever it moves away from Brokeback mountain.

Nowhere near a bad film, but also quite far from being a great film, it instead brings to mind a quote from an earlier Heath Ledger film: "I know you can be under whelmed, and you can be overwhelmed, but can you ever just be, like, whelmed?". Whelmed. That's exactly how I'd put it.

link directly to this review at http://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12764&reviewer=293
originally posted: 01/17/06 21:18:39
[printer] printer-friendly format  
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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