Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain movie poster
MPAA rating: R
Genre: Romance
Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal star in Ang Lee's film about a pair of cowboys who fall in love in 1960s-era Wyoming.
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal, Heath Ledger, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway, Randy Quaid, Anna Faris, Kate Mara, Cheyenne Hill, Brooklynn Proulx, Tom Carey, Graham Beckel, Steve Eichler
Director: Ang Lee
Running time: 2:14
Release: Opened Dec 9, 2005
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Editorial Review

The story of two cowboys who fall in love in the 1960s, "Brokeback Mountain" is a sweeping, solemn, self-serious chronicle of their relationship over several decades. From the moment Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet while applying for jobs herding sheep in Wyoming, it's just a matter of when, not if. That consummation is a brief, violent, loveless episode that over their first summer together becomes an idyll of half-naked wrestling, nuzzling by the campfire and fist fights that end in an embrace. They won't meet again until four years later -- by which time Ennis has married Alma (Michelle Williams) and had two daughters.

Over the next several years, the two men will have to be satisfied with fishing trips on Brokeback Mountain during which no fish will be caught. Ledger is especially impressive as the withdrawn, emotionally stunted Ennis, who, if homosexuality is the love that cannot speak its name, cannot even speak at all. It's Ledger's Ennis who ultimately overcomes the pall of self-importance and sanctimony that hangs over so much of "Brokeback Mountain."

As a tragic evocation of the costs of homophobia -- not just to closeted gay people but to their families and loved ones -- the film is indeed a watershed, an airing of taboos and secrets that can only be seen as welcome and deeply humanist. But director Ang Lee treats the source material with such deference that it's as if the entire movie were made in New Yorker typescript.

"Brokeback Mountain" possesses handsome and sympathetic lead players, magnificent scenery, heartbreaking melodrama, righteousness and cultural import. But as a testament to the importance of following one's passion, it's devoid of one crucial thing: passion.

-- Ann Hornaday