Sunday, December 25, 2005

Brokeback Mountain

All other hype aside, this movie is about love. And passion, sometimes rapturously indulged but too often wistfully unrequited by the unforgiving vagaries of time, circumstance, social norms, and personal responsibility.

And it’s about loneliness and fear and the kind of lingering longing and unspoken despair that you really have to have experienced to truly understand.

Ang Lee has crafted an evocative, lyrical, beautifully canvas on which the colors…lush and verdant and passionately expansive when the protagonists are alone together in and about the titular locale; bleak and tattered and filled with cool, plaintive emotional distance most other times…bring life to the spare, almost poetic, story (based on the fine Annie Proulx story with a screenplay co-written by the masterful Larry McMurtry.)

Jake Gyllenhaal is fine as the more effusive (relatively speaking) Jack but the story belongs to Heath Ledger’s Ennis, a taciturn, lonely man who doesn’t know what to do with his true feelings so he keeps them bottled up as tightly as he possibly can. Ledger’s performance is remarkable in its restraint…in the quiet that he effortlessly inhabits.

As the wives of these men, Anne Hathaway and, especially, Michelle Williams are remarkable in displaying palpable emotional range even though they have scant few lines of dialogue between them.

Brokeback Mountain is not an easy movie…it draws you into its world but it doesn’t let you experience it passively…but it is a wonderfully bittersweet, engaging (if you give its slow, deliberate pace and foreboding undertones a chance)…heartbreaking and emotionally-resonant…movie indeed.


Naim Peress said...

Wonderful and beautiful writing, Mr. Willis. I cannot equal what you said on your blog but perhaps you'd like to see what I thought of the film at

Very Anonymous Mike said...

What? No humorous reworking of the title? Christmas IS dead.

-E said...

Great review! I loved the movie, but felt I had walked several hundered miles after it because you're right, it isn't passive involvement!

Here via BE's Blog Rocket.

Doug said...

Great review, Michael. Hope you had a fine Christmas.

G_in_AL said...

Dropping by on Blog Explosion... only one comment, sorry it's not a nice one though. You write some very articulate and descriptive stuff, but the part about:
"And it’s about loneliness and fear and the kind of lingering longing and unspoken despair that you really have to have experienced to truly understand. "...

So, unless I am a manic depressive, or have been in some completely hopeless and lost sitution, I just wont get the movie?

Michael K. Willis said...

I really don't believe that you have to be manic depressive to have known loneliness and even despair (even the happiest lives can have moments, hopefully fleeting, of both.)

I didn't say that you had to wallow in them...just have known them at one time or another. If you don't then you can accept the movie on whatever terms works for you. The characters exist in a state of longing and loneliness and empathy with those things helps understand them better.

Thanks for the comment, I appreciate you dropping by.

Very Anonymous Mike said...

And really, who's living the happiest life without having times of loneliness and despair with which to contrast them.

You would have to have something to measure them with, so even the "happiest" individual would be able to relate.