I have just seen the movie I would give all my votes to, if I had any to cast when the Oscar winners of the year are chosen.
Brokeback Mountain. Worth every good word I ever heard of it. Beautiful, touching, heartbreaking, breathtaking - simply an incredibly good movie.
If you are scared of plot spoilers, I warn you at this point. There will most likely be some in this post. If you don't want to be spoiled, go and see the movie first and come back to this post later. I want to get this out of my system right away, or at least the first impressions.
I heard about this movie quite some time ago. I think my first thought was "Heath Ledger? Jake Gyllenhaal? Gay cowboys? How's that ever going to work?", not because I would've doubted the story (I was in fact extremely interested of the story right from the beginning), but because I couldn't see those two actors in the roles. (Of which I knew basically nothing at that point, to be honest.) But as I saw teasers and finally a long trailer of the movie, I began to think I might have been wrong in my suspicions.
And so I was. I've never had anything against Jake Gyllenhaal as an actor and Heath Ledger - well, I just hadn't seen him in that many movies at all, but I didn't quite picture him as an actor to be taken seriously, for whatever reason. But in Brokeback Mountain they both did an amazing job. Subtle, yet complex, quiet but very expressive.
The story, naturally, is based on a short story by Annie Proulx. (I have to find it now and read it, that's for sure!) It tells the story of two young men, who are hired to look after a few hundred sheep during a summer pasture season in Brokeback Mountain. The other, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), is a quiet and reserved fellow, who is going to be married come November. Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) on the other hand is a rodeo rider, and the more outgoing of the two.
As the summer passes, the two men find themselves in a relationship that would never be understood, let alone accepted, in the society of 1963. They have fallen in love, maybe a bit reluctantly at first, but the end result is clear. They are in love. I suppose the song title "Truly, madly, deeply" would describe the situation pretty well.
The summer, however, doesn't last forever. Any possible plans of a future together don't stand a chance. Ennis is going to get married to his Alma and Jack is going to return to his odd jobs of being a ranch hand and a rodeo rider.
Four years later Ennis receives a card from Jack, who is going to come and visit Ennis. The reunion is like a rekindled flame, burning with a force of its own. Unfortunately Alma happens to witness the first passionate kisses between the long separated lovers. It's the beginning of a slow end for their marriage.
In between the "fishing trips" Ennis and Jack take in the mountains, the men have to fight to keep their "normal" lives within the accepted framework - in this case meaning supposedly happy marriages, with children, for both. It tears especially Jack apart, piece by piece. He suggests they start a farm of their own, but Ennis won't budge. He's bound up with his responsibilities and the struggle of getting money to pay the bills and eventually, after divorcing Alma, also the child support.
The situation frustrates both men and towards the end of the movie director Ang Lee has chosen to show more of the bitterness that shadows the relationship of the men. We know that Ennis and Jack have been in the mountains for a week, but only when they are packing their pick-up trucks, the desperate emotions surface. Each separation hurts them more and more, until both of them are very close to a breaking point.
How I wished the story of Ennis and Jack could've had a happy ending. How I wished, even though I knew it wouldn't be possible. In the end true love, wide open mountain views and a possible future together have diminished into a blood stained shirt, a postcard view of Brokeback Mountain and a tiny slice of a grassy plain seen out of the window of a lonely trailer home. The sheer sadness of it, of all the lost moments of happiness...my gosh. I sat with tears in my eyes while the end credits were rolling.
One of the best things about this movie was the fact that it was very easy to feel for all the characters of the movie, not just for Ennis and Jack. Ennis' wife Alma sees how her husband lies to her about his fishing trips, which are really just lovers' getaways; Ennis' daughter grows to have a close relationship with her father despite everything; Jack's mother's short appearance is enough to create a sense of a forgiving and understanding mother... Actually the only character that remains somewhat shallow is Jack's wife, who is basically portrayed as a number-crunching heiress who has a bossy father. Not that her character really would make much of a difference in the story, since she is always left behind when Jack drives from Texas to Wyoming to meet Ennis.
In short, combine all these concealed emotions and suppressed passion to excellent acting and characterisation, plus magnificent sceneries, you've got a movie I recommend you don't miss out on. Go see it. Honestly.
And an un-related note here at the end (I must go and ponder the movie more before I continue on that topic). I have to squee a bit. The new Battlestar Galactica seems to be getting very addictive and interesting. The second part of the prologue-type miniseries was on tonight and I'm captivated. Very exciting. (And woohoo for Jamie Bamber, aka Lee "Apollo" Adama! He's done some growing up since the Hornblower series, for sure. Mmm-mmm.)
This coming spring is probably going to be see me getting addicted to a number of tv shows. I've already fallen for the Italian Elisa di Rivombrosa, yesterday's first episode of Lost made me want to see more of that story, BSG will be a show to stay tuned to and I'll even give Deadwood the benefit of a doubt for at least a few more episodes. I'm not yet sure I like that one after seeing two episodes. I love quality tv entertainment!
But what I probably love even more is quality dreaming, some of which needs to be done asap. Tomorrow's going to be a fun & busy day, with the science fiction society's grand dinner and all - I need loads of beauty sleeping before that. :)