Monday, January 30, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

I finally saw "Brokeback Mountain" yesterday mostly because I wanted to see what all the fuss was about, and also because I have this thing about seeing movies that are potentially Oscar gold. I was a wee bit hesitant mostly because I couldn't find a single RL friend who was enthused about the film (mind you, no one had actually seen it; they just 'heard' it wasn't that good and a few people even winced at the idea of the film) and even though the film has won a ton of awards, I've been burnt by that before: to wit, Lost in Translation, perhaps one of the most boring movies I've ever seen.

So my expectations were low going into the movie theatre, but from the very first scene I was hooked. Nature was practically a major character in the film, and the scenery was absolutely breathtaking -- the mountains, the valleys, the water-side scenes. In general, the movie was filmed beautifully. And then there was the acting -- Heath Ledger's laconic Ennis, Jake Gyllenhaal's passionate Jack, and Michelle Williams as the brittle Alma -- which was first rate.

The screenplay also surprised me, because it was the type of dialogue that appeals to me the most -- few words, but not a single conversation is wasted, and amazingly, there were plenty of gentle humor to balance out the angst. My favorite line of dialogue in the whole movie comes when Jack says to Ennis, "I wish I knew how to quit you." And because there is such an economy of words, a lot of what transpires between the two men and their respective spouses (Anne Hathaway plays Lureen, Jack's wife) is shown, not told, and that's refreshing.

The pacing, especially at the beginning is excellent, and the tension builds appropriately as Jack and Ennis meet and their relationship progresses from friendship to something more.

My only complaint has to do with casting. Anne Hathaway didn't work for me at all as Jack's wife -- she didn't blend with her character as well as some of the others. Also, the appearance of Linda Cardenelli ("ER") as a wanna-be nurse was jarring, mostly because I can't stand her character on "ER" and to think of her as being a nurse in this particular scenario was too much of a tie back to the non-Brokeback world.

So I give the movie two thumbs up.

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