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500 Five-Star: Brokeback Mountain (2006)

October 25, 2011


I am so in the minority here…but I really don’t care for Brokeback Mountain.  I saw it at the cinema on release, after having looked forward to it for a good long while, and I found it really only brought out two emotions in me: boredom and anger.  Boredom, because it’s a horribly drawn out and not particularly affecting story.  The enduring popularity of Romeo & Juliet proves that the inherent tragedy of two lovers unable to be together in life should always tug at the heartstrings when done well.  I’m an emotional fool, so there’s really no excuse for Brokeback Mountain leaving me as cold as it does.  It’s basically two hours of longing glances and beautiful scenery, with a bit of atrocious hair and make-up added in to really ruin any sense of realism or pain.  Did Ang Lee think that just because the film was about a subject seldom seen at the multiplex, he didn’t really have to try to create any sort of decent story?  To be fair, he was probably right, considering the plaudits Brokeback Mountain achieved.  I’m just not taken in, though.  The two main characters were both incredibly selfish men (which is where the anger comes in).  They couldn’t be together, but did that really mean they both had to marry, create children and then totally screw over their families whenever the opportunity arose?  Their actions are incredibly hurtful, yet the portrayal of the men is nothing but sympathetic.  As good as Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal are (and they are excellent, inhabiting their characters completely), it’s Michelle Williams who really breaks my heart in this film.  Confused and heartbroken, and no wonder.  The situation of the lead characters is heartwrenching, no doubt about that, but the film is about as subtle as a sledgehammer to the face.  Screaming ‘OH, IF ONLY THEY COULD BE TOGETHER…WHY IS THE WORLD SO TERRIBLE?’ isn’t going to make me care any more about two-dimensional characters and a flat, occasionally offensive representation of their relationship.

For the record, I think homosexuality should be represented in film way more than it is…and I mean in a genuine, romantic, dramatic way, not just in a ‘camp best friend’ way.  If this was a film about a man and a woman, it would be rightly rejected as corny, bland and lacking in complexity and, when you consider this is still the only major homosexual romantic drama in mainstream Hollywood cinema, gay people deserve better than that.


Gorgeous cinematography and some excellent performances aren’t anywhere near enough to make me truly care about something which, if done right, could have been a genuinely tragic and compelling story.  I have to give it


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