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Tuesday, February 21, 2006

An Attempt to Review Brokeback Mountain

So, I watched that “gay cowboy movie” this weekend. After reading numerous reviews and hearing so much talk about the movie, I was not sure about what to expect when I watched Brokeback Mountain. Despite the media frenzy and public hype, the movie quite expectedly blew me away.

First of all, I must clarify, it is NOT just a “gay cowboy movie”. To oversimplify the poignancy of the story and to box the emotions that the movie evokes in those three words is insensitive and unfair. In my opinion, to get so caught up in the fact that the story revolves around two gay cowboys is but a narrow-minded generalization. The story of Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist is like all timeless stories -- a love story -- one of forbidden love, and this like many stories before it also transcends time and goes against the dictates of society. The fact that it is between two men is incidental.

Set in 1963, in rural Wyoming, the story unfolds in a time and place where feelings of love and passion most likely were not topics at the dinner table – most especially if the feelings of love and passion were between two men. Brokeback Mountain is about two young, brash, rough and uninformed men who work together one summer herding sheep. During that summer, the men find themselves drawn to each other and while trying to fight the attraction, fall in love. It is heartbreaking to watch them struggling to do what they are told is right and trying to come to grips with what they are feeling. Especially when they have no words to define what they are going thru and no hope of coming to terms with what it is they really want. I sympathize with Ennis and Jack as they go through various states of frustrating emotional turmoil.

Both men try to do what they are taught is right. They go their separate ways, marry, have children, and get jobs. After all, this is what men do. But, despite trying to fight their feelings, they are inexplicably drawn to the bond they shared that summer up in the mountains. Throughout the next 20 years of their lives, they meet every chance they get, although the encounters are few and far between, and each time they are together only brings them closer to the realization that what they truly want they can not have and that they are helpless to change their destiny. After all their choices are limited -- be happy together but face being ostracized by society or return to their families and jobs but face a lifetime of loneliness. It is actually not a choice at all. They go back to their families and try to make the best of it, but they live lives that are tormented and confused with only the memories and anticipation of being together to sustain them.

After watching the movie, I felt a number of emotions go through me. This is not an easy movie to walk away from. Something about the powerful performances, the beauty of the landscape featured in the film, the heartwrenching dialogue, and the emotional substance it tackles stays with you. Frustration for Jack and Ennis, sympathy for Alma and Lureen (their wives), and an overall sadness for societal stereotypes and biases. Thinking about this movie makes me realize that while many of us do not find ourselves in the exact same situations, we do find ourselves in quite similar ones. More often than not we find ourselves having to face tough choices of doing what we are told is right or doing something that we feel is right for us. Hopefully, if anything, this movie teaches us that while we need to take our responsibility towards society seriously, in the end, we are also ultimately responsible for creating our own happiness.


jol said...

A great movie review; you will make an outstanding movie critic. I like the depth of your analysis and your ability to identify the lesson that the movie seeks to impart.

jml said...

Have not seen the movie but reading your review makes me eager to see the it.

consay said...

I was told that there is a scene where two guys are going to kiss each other and I do not think I can stand that. Reading your review is good enough for me.

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