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FILM REVIEW | Brokeback Mountain

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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