Sunday, September 11, 2005

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee)

Brokeback Mountain (Ang Lee) 71 - Amazingly, this infamous "gay cowboy movie" doesn't stumble at all in its portrayal of sexuality. It’s biggest failing is actually its own desire to cram twenty years of life and regret into two hours and ten minutes. As a result, it’s somewhat choppy and momentarily uninvolving. Immediately after the screening, I would have insisted that the movie was harmed by not being an hour or so longer (e,g, Anne Hathaway’s part is smaller than her character’s hair), but as I walked to my next screening, a curious thing happened, and the movie began unpacking itself in my mind, seeming richer and more subtle than I was giving it credit for. The last time this happened to me was with Million Dollar Baby, which I like drastically more upon my second viewing. Here’s to hoping that’s the case here as well.

In any instance, the comparisons between this film and The Age of Innocence are appropriate, but Lee’s style hangs back and goes for our head when Scorsese dives in, aiming for the heart. The movie is intelligent, with both passion and angst are represented with a bare minimum of fuss. Perhaps Lee should have been less afraid of having this turn into a soap opera, but there’s still nary a misstep here. Fascinating in its exploration of cowboy iconography (the brief moment where the two men are allowed to be emotionally fulfilled cowboys is a curious one, and I can’t think of many similar moments outside of Hawks), the movie crucially points out the fact that these men were outsiders before they were gay lovers.

Heath Ledger is awards-worthy here. The backdrops are so consistently stunning that they warrant use of the word vistas. The haunting closing image is absolutely perfect. Despite a massive degree of difficulty, Ang Lee delivers again.

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