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flick pick | Brokeback Mountain 2005
Directed by: Ang Lee
Written by: Larry McMurtry, Diana Ossana, E. Annie Proulx (short story)
Starring: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway
Language: English
Look for it at the video store under: drama
Watch it when you’re in the mood for something:  lovey
The critic says: ½/ 5 the rating system explained
Fun factor: ½/5 

Plot synopsis Charismatic Jack Twist and quiet Ennis Del Mar show up at the same Wyoming ranch one summer in the early 1960s, looking for work. The boss sends them to tend sheep out by beautifully desolate Brokeback Mountain, where the two find themselves all alone in the wilderness sharing herding duties by day, and canned beans heated over an open fire at night. The life suits them; they're real cowboys at heart, though already, in the 60s, theirs is a dying breed. Coming out of the stoic, manly culture of the wild wild west, getting emotional doesn't come easily to them. But all alone and with whisky a-flowing, they slowly get to talking, and a friendship is formed. Still, it's a surprise to both of them when on a cold cold night, they find themselves frantically groping for one another in a small tent. The relationship continues through the end of the season, but when it comes time to go back home, they part with no promises for anything more. Ennis stays in Wyoming, returning to his hometown to marry his high school sweetheart Alma and work as a ranch-hand. Jack heads to Texas, where he makes his way around the rodeo circuit and eventually marries a sassy rodeo queen whose wealthy daddy can't stand him. A few years pass and though the two don't stay in contact, that summer at Brokeback remains on both their minds. Jack finally sends Ennis a postcard casually mentioning he might be out his way, and soon, the two are reunited at the home Ennis shares with Alma and their kids. The hellos are barely out before Ennis is grabbing Jack into a crazy long kiss by the side of the house -- which poor Alma happens to see, though she doesn't let on, not even when Jack runs into the house shortly after and declares that he and his buddy are taking off on a fishing trip. As the years go on, Jack and Ennis take "fishing trips" as often as they can. But as the two grow older and the pretense of their family lives falls apart, Jack starts pushing for more than secret getaways stolen here and there -- even as Ennis can't quite bring himself to break the traditional values that have been pounded into him, and let himself be happy with the man he loves.

Review Unless you've been living in a cave the last year or so, you've already heard all the hype and hoopla over Ang Lee's gay cowboy movie. The hubbub was enough to put me off seeing this movie back when it was in theatres; as a person who frequently gravitates towards little indie flicks at the video store, gay love stories aren't all that novel to me, and frankly, most of the media attention seemed centered solely on the supposed daringness of the film. Yes, it's kind of nice to know that mainstream America wasn't totally weirded out by the idea of watching two guys make out on-screen. But that element alone does not a good movie make. As it turns out, though, Brokeback Mountain really is worth watching, even for those of us who don't find the subject matter itself all that outré. In the hands of a lesser director, this could have been a cheesy message story of high melodrama. Instead, Ang Lee lets this love story play out with gorgeous subtlety and restraint (whose Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon was another epic about unfulfilled love). The script doesn't rely on grand declarations to convince you these two characters are madly in love with one another; you feel it in the quiet moments in between the dialogue, the way that each of the main characters looks so sad and so lost when they're apart, so suddenly alive in those fleeting moments they're able to share. Hollywood hotties Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal do a marvelous job of selling the yearning and the frustration that Ennis and Jack both feel; as their wives, Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway make you feel the complexity of the situation as well (Williams, especially, is heartbreaking). Brokeback Mountain is just a classic epic weeper of a love story in the best sense -- it'll make you cry, and you'll love it for it. —reviewed by Yee-Fan Sun

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