Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Quiet, Powerful, Sad Romance Will Stay with You; BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Quiet, Powerful, Sad Romance Will Stay with You; BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN

Article excerpt

Byline: MATT SOERGEL

Brokeback Mountain makes a few missteps, but it's still a powerful, sad romance that gets its doomed appeal from us knowing that its lovers simply can't ever really be with each other -- not in this time and certainly not in this place.

Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal play Ennis Del Mar and Jack Twist, two Wyoming cowboys who fall in love with each other while spending the summer of 1963 tending sheep on Brokeback Mountain.

The mountain is glorious, the vistas magnificent. And that big country nourishes their passion, which is both physical and emotional, as several scenes make clear. But they try to deny it. Ennis, on the morning after, says he's not queer. "Me neither," says Jack.

So they go apart, and years go by.

Ang Lee's film paints their lives off Brokeback as drab, routine and false. They have wives they don't love (Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway), kids to take care of, jobs they can't stand.

Then Jack comes to visit from faraway Texas, for the first of their infrequent "fishing trips" into the wilderness together. And in a scene that's the most urgent in the film, they kiss hungrily, recklessly, where anyone can see them. And Ennis' wife (Williams) does see them, but says nothing, for a long, long time.

It's a credit to the filmmakers that she's given space to make herself real; Williams turns in a wounded, proud performance that will probably get her one of the multiple Oscar nominations you can expect for Brokeback Mountain.

The screenplay by Larry McMurtry and Diane Ossana fleshes out the spare elegance of Annie Proulx's short story while staying absolutely faithful to the source (much of the dialogue is lifted, fully).

Ledger's Ennis is the strong and silent type, and Ledger plays him with pain on his face and a growly voice that can barely stand to spit out more than a few syllables. He ain't big on speeches. He's careful, really careful -- he's in pain, but he's not about to let anyone know, even though you can tell just looking at him. …

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