Sunday, January 29, 2006

Where have all the cowboys gone?

I'm mad busy today but I of course find a minute to blahg.

Tonight I saw Brokeback Mountain to further support the Gay Agend--I mean, because I heard it was really good. Well despite my trepidation over a movie whose themes are "gay" and "cowboys", I absolutely loved it. It should be called Heartbreak Mountain. *tear*

Jake Gyllenhal and Heath Ledger do some great acting in this film, as do the supporting characters. The cinemetography is wonderful. The direction is excellent. It is all around good and worthy of all the praise for it that's been buzzing around.


Here are some questions and comments I have on Brokeback .

I read in a (positive) review of the film that it denies its characters flaws. I'll agree with that. For one thing, it is difficult to say that they were just two gay cowboys in love with society against them, when there are real live human beings--their wives and children--involved. One of the scenes that evoked laughter from the audience I was in was when Ennis's wife secretly witnesses him passionately kissing Jack Twist. She withholds this knowledge throughout the movie, and rather than being a kind of chuckle-at-the-scandal moment, it should be heartbreaking from her perspective. Not to tell anyone how they should feel or anything...

Additionally, not to buy into this whole notion of gay-equals-lust, but there are moments when we are lead to believe that sex is a big part of why they have their rendevouz on Brokeback Mountain. When there are to be long months between their next meeting, Jack gets a male hooker in Mexico, and later alludes to this fact to Ennis, he justifies this by saying that Ennis is never around and he has to get his fill (so to speak) somewhere. He needed something to tie him over. Is romance (for hetero or homo) a factor of sex? In other words, can there be romantic feelings and romantic love without the sexual? (Personally, I think there can but this is rare and I am no measure of such a thing actually existing.)

It is interesting to note that when Jack lies to Ennis, saying that he is fucking around with the foreman's daughter (which of course means he's cheating on his wife and Ennis), Ennis doesn't seem to care and makes a joke about it. But after Jack's death, Ennis figures out from Jack's parents that the "foreman's daughter" was really a man and he is heartbroken even more. I think this is a realistic aspect of gay life in the closet, where gay men will tell their closeted partners that whatever they do outside of their relationship as fine as long as it's not with other men.

When Jack's wife describes the tire accident that she says killed him, and Ennis imagines a murder scene...what are we to believe about what happened? I think that the tire explosion was a cover story that the wife's family made up because the truth was too embarassing to them, and that they all figured out the truth because Jack was more casual about being seen with both Ennis and his new lover than Ennis was. Further, when Jack went back to the ranch that time years before and the head-honcho told him that he didn't have work for him because he knew he and Ennis were being fruity on the hill, I don't think we were to expect so much from that man that he wouldn't have spread the word about Jack. (Further, Ennis talked about how he always felt like people's knowing eyes were all over him.) In the earlier scene when Ennis flashed back to his father taking him and his brother to see the body of the man killed for being gay, he says, for all he knows his dad could have been the one to do it. Which in my opinion was forshadowing the fact that Jack's father in law was behind his murder, at least indirectly, as he always hated him--and was verbally castrated at the Thanksgiving dinner when Jack stood his ground against the mean old man--and being a gay wife cheater would be even more reason. All this and Jack's wife's attitude towards the whole thing on the phone with Ennis was emotional but distant -- like she was trying to be over it because the truth about Jack's life hurt her so much but she of course was deeply, deeply saddened by the whole thing. Maybe she even knew her dad did it -- which is more painful because she felt especially fond of Jack when he stood up to her dad.


At any rate, I think this movie is a masterpiece, and has many layers and levels to dig through. I might see it again. Which is rare.


Lisa V said...

I thought the scene where Alma witnesses Jack and Ennis' kiss was heartbreaking. No one in the audience I was in laughed. I thought the whole thing of her knowing about this relationship but having no way to deal with it- other than finally leaving him- was really poignant.

I think Jack's death was left ambiguous on purpose. The beating was either the truth or it was Ennis' idea of what would happen if someone found out either of them were gay.

I think the love/lust question is a good one. I think their affair was never able to get past that first stage of pure passion because they never built a life together. All their time together was just that fantasy time where no one interferes with your relationship for the few days they were removed from the real world. I do think it was love, I just think it was never allowed to deepen.

I loved the movie, had to write a post about it too.

Stroll said...

Hey, thanks for your comment. I agree with Jack's death being ambiguous on purpose, but I like to speculate. There are so many subtle little references and complexities that one can draw many conclusions. No doubt the director was going for that. Also it's true they were in fantasy land on Brokeback so couldn't get much beyond passion and build the life together (which Jack desperatly wanted to do) because of things like the guy dragged to death and the images of Jack's murder happening in the world they lived in.

S.D. Hollaback said...

Wow, I liked the movie, but I didn't analyze it clearly as much as I should have. You've really made me consider a good deal. I'm glad I was there! :)