Sometimes when watching and reviewing a movie, one gets the feeling that what will be written will never please all of the people. I felt it with Kingdom of Heaven, I felt it with my review of Alien 3 and I have to say that I really feel it with this one, even more so than the others. Perhaps it's because of the critical acclaim this has had as well as the Oscar nominations and so forth, but this is the first time I've felt that I'm really going to need the proverbial flameproof suit.........
Brokeback Mountain is a simplistic story of two young men, Ennis Del Mar (Ledger) a farm hand and Jack Twist (Gyllenhaal). Set against the backdrop of Wyoming circa 1963, this movie, based on a short story by E.Annie Proulx, is a tale of forbidden love, of how two men fall in love with each other, then get married to two women (Williams and Hathaway respectively) and how their lives continue with their love for each other. We see how the affair they embark on causes ripples through each of their lives.How many times have you watched a critically-acclaimed movie and wondered “How?” or “Why?”. More to the point, why can't I say more than two sentences for a synopsis of a movie? Well let's start with the second point first. It's very hard to say a great deal about a movie where nothing really happens, in fact the whole time I was watching this, I kept thinking it was like Lost In Translation, except I really liked that movie. Let me clarify this - Lost In Translation was a love story between Murray and Johansson's characters, where they never acted on their impulses but the chemistry between them, the attraction was apparent and it was set against some wonderful scenery. Brokeback Mountain is a love story between Hedger and Gyllenhaal's characters, where they do act on their impulses, but there is no chemistry between them, the attraction isn't apparent and it is set again some wonderful scenery. There I've said it. It's a movie where I watched it with an open mind (the subject matter may be bothersome to some, but not to me) and I've sat there and thought “Why is this so critically acclaimed?”.Well, the only reason I can think of is that the cinematography is quite stunning, with some beautiful shots of the scenery and mountains. It is incredibly picturesque and did make me at times wish I was there to enjoy the view. But that's the only real positive thing I can say about this movie. I have huge problems in the execution of how the two leads fall for each other and without wishing to spoil the movie, as the events I am about to discuss are the first 20-30 minutes or so, I'll try and explain. The first character we see is Ennis, who seems a typical man around that era - cowboy hat on etc. Nothing out of the ordinary, right? We then see Jack Twist in his battered, run down vehicle which he gets out of and stands there. Immediately, due to his body language and demeanour, I automatically thought he was gay - I have a few gay friends and I'm sure they'll forgive me but the way he carried himself seemed slightly camp. I don't mean that in a bad way, it is as though we are supposed to understand his sexuality immediately without him saying a word. Anyway, after being hired by Randy Quaid's character, they set up Brokeback Mountain, steering sheep along the way. The interaction between the two is minimal - they hardly speak initially, just passing conversation, if you can call it that. They cook, eat and sleep. That's about it, until one night they get slightly drunk and sleep together in the tent. Jack then pulls Ennis' arm over him, for a hug, as women tend to when in bed. Ennis reacts badly, pulls his arm away violently and the next thing is the trousers are whipped down and sex ensues. Now, some may be shocked from this actual event. I was more shocked in how it took place - it didn't feel right whatsoever. They'd hardly talked, hardly bonded, Ennis seemed to take offence at his arm being pulled around Jack and then the next minute he's riding him like a bronco bull. Sorry, but I don't buy into this sequence of events, it felt wrong, it felt forced and other than the obvious tell at the beginning as to Jack's sexuality, it didn't make sense within the context of the movie's narrative.So that's one of my gripes, the other main one is that it takes 135 minutes to say very, very little. In fact, there's a superb rendition on the Angry Alien site that tells the story in 30 seconds, with bunnies. For those with the recently released edition of Titanic, it's the same thing as found on there - actually I prefer the 30 second bunny version of Titanic as well. Oh, keep an eye out for a practically unrecognisable Anna Farris and to a much lesser extent for Linda Cardellini (Thelma from the Scooby Doo movies). I recognised the latter, but I was shocked at how different Farris looks, mostly as I still think of her in those awful Scary Movie movies. As I was saying, before bunnies sidetracked me, it does drag. There are moments where we watch the scenery, nothing happens, but we get to watch the scenery. We get to see the romance unfold, while snails whiz past in the background. Yes people, it is that slow and plodding. I would go on about the ending, but that wouldn't be fair to people who wish to view this movie. Personally, I expected it to be far better than it was, considering the critical appraisal that it got. I understood the subject matter before going in, but sadly, other than the cinematography, I found this a rather hollow, cold movie. If you want something similar, Lost In Translation has a similar vibe to it, but is a much better movie. Still, for those who want to see Anne Hathaway topless again, here's another chance to see her breasts (Is it me, or is that all she has done since The Princess Diaries?). Brokeback Mountain? More like Boredback Mountain.
Our Review Ethos