Tasteless love drama penetrates beautiful photography
There is nothing more painful for a cinephile than to have to watch a movie with an astounding cinematography, only to witness that this movie has an appalling storyline and even worse acting. Brokeback mountain is such a film. It’s not so much the homo aspect – that would be socially unacceptable and besides, Milk was a movie about homosexuality and it was a great! – but there is just not a lot of interesting things going on.
Brokeback mountain moans and whines due to a serious lack of plot changes and the entire movie feels like a drawn-out version of a monotonous Big brother-episode. The story is thin like paper, perhaps it would’ve been better if this had been a short movie instead. One could even wonder if this movie was blessed with an Academy Award-nomination for ‘Best Picture’ because it was so good … or simply out of sympathy, because the story is about two sad homosexual people. Me thinks the latter one …
The story is basically a romantic story but with a twist. Two boys go to work as sheep herders in a remote valley and discover their true nature in a dirty tent. They ride each other like a rodeo bull, but once they’re back in civilization, they discover it ain’t so easy being gay, especially in a neighborhood of tough cowboys and short-sighted redneck-fascists.
Scared of what it might to do them if word got out they’re gay, the boys return to their homes and respective wives, only to keep falling back into each other’s arms. It seems, true love is a powerful thing …
The baseline of this movie is pretty original though. Homosexuals in Hollywood-movies are all too often portrayed as frolicking female-fellers with fragile hands. Thank God for Brokeback mountain for creating two main characters who are gay yet ‘feel’ natural and real.
Unsurprisingly, the first few moments in the movie are a joy to watch (no, not the tent-scene, thank you!).
Director Ang Lee (famous for making the Asian Matrix-drama Crouching tiger, hidden dragon and infamous for the green, hideous monstrosity named Hulk) refines his docudrama* with a supplement of absolutely astonishingly beautiful natural landscapes during the first 20 minutes or so in the movie. The photography and cinematography are truly a feast for the eyes. If there’s one department in which the movie deserves full credit, it is undoubtedly the talent of the director.
But this movie isn’t about sheepherders in nature, but about forbidden love between two men. And as soon as the first love scene smudges the screen ‘full monty-style’, the movie takes on a totally different route. What could’ve been (and perhaps should’ve been) an intricate storyline about two people trying to find their place in the world becomes a long and dreary social experiment. A drama which is about as empty in storyline development as a condom which has never been properly used.
At times the movie feels like you’re driving your car in circles on a roundabout or something. The vapidity and mind-numbing storyline seems endless. After 90 minutes, the happy couple is still lying in the grassland contemplating a future dream life that seems out of their reach.
Basically, Brokeback mountain is best compared to a mushy romantic chick-flick, but with two guys …
The only one left standing tall in this otherwise pretty monotonous romantic drama is actress Michelle Williams. The heart-wrenching emotion she depicts when she finds out her husband has a hard-on for some cowboy, is the kind of raw performance that we hadn’t seen yet from the ex-Dawson’s creek girl. But in future times Michelle Williams would go on to play other and better dramatic roles.
Jake Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko from the movie with the same name) is also not bad.
The only one who basically breaks his back trying to play his role, is Heath Ledger. This is not only a pity, but a surprise too. The man had shown before that he was capable of playing complex characters. His very vulnerable and all the more exceptionally gripping role in Monster’s ball not to mention his sensational method-acting as the single most brilliant Joker-version ever (sorry Jack Nicholson!) in the Batman-sequel The dark knight is an irrefutable testament of his legacy.
Well, you can’t have ’em all! His acting in Brokeback mountain is lifeless and uninspiring. His voice somehow resembles the voice of reggae-rapper Shaggy because you can hardly understand what the actor is mumbling about. Did Heath Ledger wanna be part of this movie in the first place? Because it seems like he’s not enjoying himself all that much …
* Docudrama = Documentary-drama
did you know?
This movie is banned in China, because homosexuality is considered a taboo subject there.
Give it to me straight:
Brokeback mountain presents a wonderful silver platter of breathtaking landscapes, but director Ang Lee is so focused on the outside that he forgets to flesh out his story with things that matter, like substance and interesting plot changes. The movie doesn’t hold much more than two cowboys who desperately fall in love with each other only to find out that they still have a family somehwere. The storyline keeps spinning needlessly in circles and jumps back and forth between the secretive, forbidden bromance on one hand and the force play of a fake marriage on the other hand.
The result? The movie is slow but not in a good way. The casting looks wooden and no one seems to know for sure where the movie is headed …
If you wanna watch a really great movie about homosexuality, watch the Sean Penn-drama Milk. Now THAT is what I call ‘real acting’!