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Brokeback Mountain
Posted to Movies at 03:27 PM on Jun 19, 2007

2005. Focus Features. Directed by Ang Lee. Starring Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.

I've never felt two hours stretch to four or five quite the way they did when I watched Brokeback Mountain. At the end, I kind of felt like I'd been hit by a bus. And that's not a bad thing.

Artificially aging actors over a course of a movie takes a decent amount of skill. The most remarkable thing about this movie is how natural both men look throughout. Strike that. That's the second most remarkable thing. The actual most remarkable thing is the art direction. The set design is quite striking. Bad set design is another thing about a movie that can completely ruin one's illusion, but the 60's and 70's-inspired wardrobe and props are spot-on.

This movie feels like a huge, sweeping epic. It runs just over two hours, but it spans, like, thirty years without missing a beat. It documents the illicit love between Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Ledger). Jack and Ennis are both cowboys. They meet in Wyoming in the 60's while on a ranching job. They are both just guys, though. Tough, quiet guys who work long hours just to feed themselves. Neither are very charming or witty or smart. And their story is so unsentimental and without melodrama that it can hit you like a ton of bricks.

I hadn't been really impressed with Ledger before this film. I imagine that Ledger is almost exactly like his character and his performance in this movie displays just about all the range he has, sadly. Gyllenhaal, on the other hand, is pretty awesome. He expertly combines Jack Twist's wide-eyed optimism with sadness and guilt expertly.

Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway play Ennis and Jack's spouses. We don't see very much of either of them, since this story is really about their husbands, but still, it would have been nice to know them more. Neither woman is very sympathetic or likeable. Both Williams and Hathaway do a pretty decent job with what they have, though.


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