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Brokeback Mountain

Marlboro Men

I will never see Brokeback Mountain again. Not because it was awful. On the contrary, it was so incredibly good and made such an indelible impression that it will stay with me for the rest of my life. Indeed, I have never seen a movie quite like it before and have seldom been so moved.

When I first saw the trailer I was not initially impressed. Cowboys? Mountains? Camping? Didn't Robert Redford already make a movie with the same elements? But then 15 seconds into the trailer as I stared, open-mouthed and shocked, I changed my mind. Robert Redford most definitely did not make a movie like this. And, honestly, while I was simultaneously titillated, I also I resented the trailer in that it gave a huge part of the story away.

At this point in the game so many people have learned of the premise that I see no point in not discussing it within this review. However, if you have no idea what I'm talking about, please stop reading here and just skip down to the last paragraph. Brokeback Mountain is based on a short story written by author Annie Proulx (The Shipping News) that first appeared in The New Yorker magazine in 1997. It tells story of two young men, Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) and Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), who meet in 1963 while working as sheepherders on isolated Brokeback Mountain, Wyoming. They're regulars 'ol cowboys.

Hard prairie living has been etched into to their bodies and minds. Neither talk much (although Twist can most definitely be described as the more talkative of the two), both have had difficult lives and each know the meaning of a buck. As the summer months pass, the two men settle into a companionable friendship that eventually turns into something even more meaningful.

After their stint, Ennis goes on to marry Alma (Michelle Williams) and the two quickly start a family, and Jack eventually meets the lovely Lureen (Anne Hathaway) and settles in Texas; however, despite all this, their relationship continues. The place where they first met, Brokeback Mountain, becomes a haven from the outside world and familial responsibilities, the only place where they can be themselves.

Brokeback Mountain is one of the most beautiful love stories I have ever seen. Truly. There will be people who will take one look at the trailer or read a review and quickly dismiss the film as "a gay movie". They would be making a mistake. Yes, there is a homosexual relationship here, but that is almost secondary to the nature of the film. Look beyond the genitals! The fact that it's two guys in love rather than a man and woman (and mind you there's that too) is not really the point and, thusly, the movie shouldn’t be categorized and shoved into the "gay ghetto". Audiences who make this judgment call and decide it's not their thing will be depriving themselves of one of the best movies of the year.

The story is a delicate, fragile thing and it is handled with astounding finesse by director Ang Lee and (The Ice Storm, Eat Drink Man Woman). This is the best movie he has ever made. Not only are the characters brought to life but also is the landscape. The snow-capped mountain peaks, valleys and barren prairies are just as much a part of the story as the actors themselves. This is Heath Ledger's breakout role; don't be surprised if he wins an Oscar award for his performance here. And while Gyllenhaal is good and has a more obvious emotional range, it is Ledger's quiet ways that worm their way into your heart. Moreover, the two actors have a natural chemistry that should be bottled up and sold.

To put it bluntly: Brokeback Mountain is one of the best movies of the year and has earned a permanent place in my Top Ten Movies of the All Time list.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars