It's hardly surprising that Brokeback Mountain is one of the most talked-about films of the year--you couldn't really expect otherwise with a "gay cowboy movie." I'm not quite sure it completely lives up to the hype, but it is a very good film. To begin with, it's visually stunning. You expect that from a Western--landscapes are an integral part of the genre--but what impressed me was how well Ang Lee, who was born and raised in Taiwan, was able to capture such an American feeling in his movie. The combination of lean, spare dialogue with the vast scope of the visuals lends this sort of stripped-down, rugged feeling, at once haunting and empty, but also raw and passionate. That more or less also describes Heath Ledger's performance, which would have been perfect if not for the fact that he had so much trouble with the accent. As for Jake Gyllenhaal, well, I'm starting to be a little unsure if he's quite as good as I've given him credit for being. I think it's just that he's a little too young and doesn't have the range to play a fully mature character. That's fine for movies like Donnie Darko and Jarhead, but by the end of Brokeback Mountain he's supposed to be approaching middle age, with a teenaged son and a wife of nearly twenty years, and I just didn't buy it. The supporting cast was good, and I especially thought the three main women (Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, and Linda Cardellini) did well, but really it was all about Ledger and Gyllenhaal. I don't know if I think this one really deserves a Best Picture or Best Actor win, but I think the nominations it's gotten so far are quite appropriate. And it's been kind of a lean year for movies--in my book, at least--so maybe some wins wouldn't be so bad after all.
Viewed: 12/17/2005 | Released: 12/8/2005 | Score: A