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February 27, 2006 | by  | in Film |
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Brokeback Mountain

DIRECTED BY ANG LEE
Rialto, Reading Cinemas

Apparently this film is controversial because Westerns aren’t usually about men preferring to hanging out with each other rather that woman. Clearly all the classics – The Wild Bunch, The Searchers, Red River to name but a few – aren’t about that. Sure, Brokeback Mountain includes Heath Ledger trying to rip Jake Gyllenhaal a new arsehole, but who really cares? This film is about love – and shock horror, homosexual people fall in love too.

Brokeback Mountain looks at the relationship Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis (Heath Ledger) form while herding sheep in the Wyoming wilderness. Their complete isolation leads towards love – and a perfect summer passes by. It is only when they’re forced to “rejoin” the real world that life catches up. Both get trapped in unfulfilling heterosexual relationships, instead relying on infrequently getting together for “fishing trips”.

This is such an achingly sad film. The power is in the story – the source material is a short story by E. Annie Proulx. The film looks at how life can often by summed up by a brief moment where everything is perfect – which you then often find yourself trying to relive or recapture. The tragedy is that it never can be repeated. The tragedy is furthered by the fact that we can often destroy it ourselves.

The acting is uniformly great. As great as Phillip Seymour Hoffmann is in Capote, Heath Ledger’s performance is the one which deserves the Oscar. He is magnificent, harrowingly internalising the conflict of a man who is unable to get neither a proper relationship with Jack, nor a relationship with his daughter. Michelle Williams, as Ennis’ wife, is also brilliant. The direction is conservative, but the story and acting carry the film through. The final shot is reminiscent of the brilliant final shot of The Searchers – with Ennis doomed to be trapped in an internal world and find no peace in the outside one. Don’t be fooled by the hype – this is actually a wonderful film. Strange too, that Hollywood produces a film reminiscent to a European art film, rather than simply a Gyllenhaal-Ledger snog-fest.

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About the Author ()

Brannavan Gnanalingam has come a long way from being born in the teeming metropolis of Colombo, Sri Lanka. He may be known as feature writer for Salient, but is also the only man in history to have simultaneously donated both his kidneys. He is also an amateur rapper going under the moniker Brantank and hopes to win a Grammy.

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