February 3rd, 2006

diversion sign

Brokeback Mountain

Brokeback Mountain was the first film I've seen this year, but if I see a better one in 2006, I'll be amazed. I've always loved Ang Lee's films. I even liked his Hulk film - a movie that left most people nonplussed and did lukewarm business at the box office.

Brokeback Mountain is a basically a slow-burning, character study, about an inarticulate man who finds inexplicable love outside the conventions of the narrow society he comes from. All the usual Ang Lee themes are here: thwarted love, social coding, and repressed feeling exploding into anger and violence. The film never takes any easy options and doesn't shy away from making the two main characters unsympathetic at times. The lies they're obliged to tell, in order to hide their secret life, cause a great deal of hurt and damage.

At first I thought Heath Ledger's gruff, mumbly acting style was affected compared to Jake Gyllenhaal's more natural approach, but as the film went on, Ledger begins to dominate in the acting stakes. I'm not at all surprised he's been Oscar nominated. It's a great performance.

A touching and characteristically humane film from Ang Lee, that in other hands might have ended up being merely worthy but dull, but which he transforms into something stunning and heartfelt.