Saturday, January 21, 2006
Brokeback Mountain (no spoilers)
Jon and I went to see this movie last night. Packed theater. Winning the Golden Globe for Best Picture means that it is no longer on only two screens in our city. We can find it in a couple of more theaters but still with very few times.
Cincinnati, in case you didn't know, passed the most restrictive gay partnership laws in the country during the last election. We are not "gay friendly."
Yet the theater was packed.
If you've seen "Sense and Sensibility" or "Eat, Drink, Man, Woman" you are familiar with Ang Lee's directing. He is minimalist and not sentimental. He uses space and light and time in his movies. Nothing is hurried but the pace never drags either. The screen was open wide like the country where the story takes place (Wyonming). Absolutely breath taking scenery in every frame.
The life of a cowboy is portrayed in its poverty and grittiness. Weirdest thing for me. Jon's dad was a rodeo rider and he worked as a cowboy before Jon came along. Jon's dad and mom met at a rodeo that his dad was in!
Anyway, the Heath Ledger character (Ennis Del Mar) reminded me so much of Jon's dad. Heath nailed the characterization - the mumbling speech, the infuriating quietness, the troubled soul that never reveals its troubles. There's some "cowboy code" that is conveyed in how they drink, walk, hold their hats, breathe. And being from Australia, it is amazing to me how authentically Heath Ledger pulled off this subtle characterization.
Jake Gyllenhall is the more loquacious of the two and does a terrific job of being the counter point to Heath. Both guys are so good looking it almost hurts at first. The make-up folks age them over the course of the movie and do a decent job (pretty hard to believably age good-looking twenty-somethings to their fifties).
The story is challenging to many of our assumptions about homosexuality and relational love. I don't want to write about the story itself until others have seen it. For me, it told the story of the danger that comes from not knowing yourself as well as living in the wrong place at the wrong time without that self-knowledge.
Acting performances were believable, heart-breaking and involving.
Directing-spare, moving and tasteful.
If you have a strong aversion to homosexuality, it might be a difficult movie to watch. For me, after several years of Six Feet Under, I realized that I no longer see gayness - I see people struggling to work out their relationships with each other - with the ones they love, and I see how much relational love is intertwined with sexual expression.
Good movie. Hope it wins a bucket of Oscars.