As a poignant and touching love story, Brokeback Mountain deserves to help revive an ailing genre..

After a short stint trying to re-craft the comic book blockbuster in his own image, Ang Lee returns, gloriously, to more familiar ground. Based on Annie Proulx’s celebrated short story, Brokeback Mountain is a grand epic, a heartbreaking love story of two Wyoming ranch hands who fall for each other.

It’s remarkable to see a movie about a gay romance told in such a determinedly straight fashion. In fact where most contemporary rom-coms perform all sorts of contrived narrative somersaults to keep its lovers apart, in Brokeback Mountain, the circumstances of a hostile society that conspire to separate Jake Gyllenhaal’s Jack Twist and Heath Ledger’s Ennis Del Mar are utterly believable and genuinely painful.

But it’s not just the boys you end up rooting for. One of the reasons that Ang Lee’s film come across as so incredibly human is his reluctance to introduce a villain into the piece. The female leads could easily have been two-dimensional obstacles to true love. Instead, they’re almost as tragic as the men; it is not, after all, their fault that they unwittingly married blokes who were secretly spoken for.

It will be interesting to see how these themes will play in the queer-fear conservative heartlands of America. There’s a very real possibility that the idea of gay cowboys will threaten the middle class majority; those who are more comfortable when gay people are safely stereotyped as queeny LA fashionistas.

As a poignant and touching love story, Brokeback Mountain deserves to help revive an ailing genre: studio wisdom has it that sweeping romances spanning 20 years are a dead idea. On this evidence, they really should think about doing it more often.

Anticipation: Some kind of Priscilla, Queen of the Ranch, right?

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Enjoyment: By the end you’d sell your own grandmother if it would help make things alright for them.

In Retrospect: As soon as it ends you’ll want to watch it again. Even if it meant putting yourself once more through the emotional wringer.

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Available to buy / view on: Amazon

Brokeback Mountain (text) by Catherine Wray is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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