Saturday, March 25, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

It took me a fair while, but I finally saw this movie. I really don't get why people are calling it the greatest love story of all time - maybe they've never heard of Romeo and Juliet. Sure, there was all sorts of suppressed passion going on, and the social circumstances got in the way a little, but their love was pretty commonplace, but for the fact it was between two men. It isn't like Ennis gave into to Jack's wish that they go away and start some farm together.

At one point, around half an hour into the movie, when one of the audience members left, I was beginning to wonder about this movie, whether I should bother to stay. Ultimately, I am glad I did - I have come to appreciate the way that Ang Lee very gradually built up the complexity, starting with the pastoral scenes up Brokeback mountain where everything was pretty simple, to the point where both men have their respective families and are embedded in a network of lies, necessary so that they can get to see each other every so often. Then, everything became so simple again for Ennis: he could finally act out his love for Jack, even if it was too late. There was some fine acting from the two male leads, even if they played the two most boring men I've ever watched - quite a risk for Ang Lee to take. Ennis was such a hugely buttoned down character, with all sortrs of things being suppressed. Their last fishing trip, when they realise what their relationship had cost them and how little actual relationshipo they had had was pure gold. Ennis in particular was a man of very few words - he gave his entore life story in a handful of sentences, and it was about as big a piece of talking he'd ever done. But, like his daughter, what words he did use counted.

For me, the brilliant part of the movie was when they were both navigating their way through their relationships with their wives - particularly intriguing was the situation with Ennis and Alma, as she knew exactly what Ennis and Jack were up to, and just sucked it in for so long - maybe because of Ennis's violence, which was never far from the surface, a mis-direction of the passion he felt for Jack. But there was great stuff to see in Jack's situation, too: I think my favourite scene in the whole movie was their thanksgiving, when Jack and his dad were battling for control of the turkey, the TV, the family. Then, when Jack exploded at his father in law, there was Lureen's sly smile of approval. No such fights in the Del Mar household: the turkey is being cut with an electric knife, and not by Ennis.

I think for me, rather than the big love story thing between Jack and Ennis, the thing that will make me get this movie out when it hits DVD and watch it again will be to pick up on the other details built into the movie, details that I'll have missed but add their own little bit of colour to the story - something Ang Lee seems to specialise in.


Anonymous cleanie said...

i was pretty ho-hum about it until this big realisation hit me - it's all about stasis vs movement. in that you can accept the good things life gives you, but life is actually completely disinterested in either good things or bad things - if you get something good, act on it, because you just can't sit still hoping that it will sort itself out. that was the difference between the two leads - one static, the other fighting for the good thing they had - and when you think about how both of them end up, one of them has to live with his decision for the rest of his life. awesome. like logic or that balance sheet always in the background of in greek tragedy.

11:49 AM  

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