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Brokeback Mountain

August 24, 2010

Brokeback Mountain (2005)
Director: Ang Lee
Actors: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams

brokeback-mountain-300x168.jpg (300×168)

Synopsis: Two cowboys (Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal) fall in love when they work together on a cattle ranch one season.

Review: Amid all the column inches focusing on the movie’s gay subject matter and interesting play on genre conventions,the salient theme of Brokeback Mountain is perhaps being missed. There is some measure to be gained from analysing Lee’s subversion of Western motifs, but it strikes me as largely academic and only moderately interesting.

What the movie really speaks to me of is the temporality of idealism and how people exist in the melancholic undertow of its passing. In many ways this film reminds me of Richard Linklater’s Before Sunrise/Before Sunset diptych which asked similar existential questions, and, with both sets of films, the presentation of the passing of time is so crucial. We watch excruciatingly as the years pass by while Ledger and Gyllenhaal’s cowboys ghost-walk through their lives, failing to recapture the idyll of their tryst on Brokeback Mountain, and inadvertently co-opting their families into the pain of the affair’s aftermath. (January 2006)

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