I have to admit that the more hype that built up about Brokeback Mountain during the past few weeks, the less inclined I was to go. Perhaps it was my Mom seeing it first that tipped me over the edge, or maybe it was the good reviews the movie has been getting. I also have to admit that when Americans are “voting with their feet” and making it a blockbuster (on a per theater grossing basis), I am influenced by that.
I also am glad to have read GayPatriotWest’s posting this morning about the review by Gene Shalit and the subsequent outrage by GLAAD. I completely agree with Dan, and many commenters, that the GLAAD reaction was over the top. And as Dan has so eloquently stated, his review was certainly not “anti-gay” as GLAAD is now charging.
That all being said, I was a bit biased toward the idea that Jake’s character might be a sexual predator when I sat down in the packed and sold-out Manor Theater this afternoon. (All shows yesterday were sold out in the one Charlotte theater showing the film!) But I cannot for the life of me see what Shalit saw in Jake’s character, Jack Twist. In fact, there is quite a good argument in my mind that it was Heath Ledger’s character, Ennis, who was more of the physical aggressor…. at least initially. I frankly didn’t see either one of the cowboys as victims in this movie so I don’t give much stock to Shalit’s view of Jack Twist-as-predator.
Now to my personal thoughts on the movie. Frankly, it was quite sad and depressing and not the kind of movie I would normally find enjoyable. Nothing about it was uplifting and hopeful at all. I am finding I agree with a lot of what Dan said in his review and what many of our commenters said today in this posting.
(Note — some spoilers will be included after the jump and potentially in our comments)
First, I felt the early relationship between Ennis and Jack was quite empty. I didn’t feel they had bonded as friends or even lovers and it made me feel like I had missed a scene or something. The flashback scene of their first summer, shown when they last see each other, came close to showing that first bonding they had. Perhaps if that scene and others like it were shown during that “first summer” sequence, I would have believed more that these two guys had feelings for each other. Those feelings became apparent over time, but I think it was needed early on.
I do think that Heath Ledger’s performance as a personally conflicted cowboy was very good and quite worthy of an Oscar nomination. Frankly, the movie would not have been as good without him in the role of Ennis. He really carried the film, in my view. The film, however, didn’t go to the same heights as Ledger’s performance.
I also agree with many of the commenters on the blog today…. there were no winners in this movie and the lack of concern about the wives by their husbands were quite disturbing. These were two men whose relationship really did seem to be defined by their physical actions. And damn the consequences. And I said to PatriotPartner on our way home (as also one of our commenters noted), the only person in the movie that seemed happy was Ennis’ oldest daughter. Frankly, I felt like drowning myself in a bottle of whiskey by the end of the flick.
A couple of other unrelated but funny things happened before, during and after the movie worth noting. As I mentioned it was sold out. Well, as we walked into (and then out of) the theater, two separate guys were on their cellphones saying virtually the same words: “You better get here soon, there’s no parking left, and every gay man in Charlotte is here!”
And I do have to close with this reflection. There were a couple of times during Brokeback where I cringed and thought, “Geez.. my Mom saw this scene!” No Mom, not every gay relationship begins with a tent-rape scene! *grin*