Ang Lee is not a director. He is a painter.
Brokeback Mountain is one of the most bitter-sweet movies I’ve seen in a long time. It’s a story of love that can’t be, but not in a Montague and Capulet kind of way. These two men are so trapped in their lives and times and circumstances, it’s a pity.
I wish the story wasn’t getting so much media coverage for being about “gay cowboys.” Why isn’t it billed as a love story? These two characters are stuck in stereotypically super-heterosexual roles, but their relationship doesn’t become a spectacle. It’s not like this a porn featuring the Village People.
I won’t go into the plotline, because the trailers don’t give it all away and I want others who see this to have the same experience that I did.
Heath Ledger is already being focussed on as best actor in all the awards nominations that have been announced. He is, I suppose, the main character – Ennis. His stoic sensitivity is heart-breaking, and he’s put on a mumble that would put Vito Corleone to shame. His character is engaged when the story starts, and has two children soon after (with his wife, playing by Michelle Williams, who is great, and not just because he’s from the Crik.).
Jake Gyllenhaal plays Jack. Sometimes I can’t decide if I think this guy is handsome or not. Jack marries later than Ennis and indulges in homosexual encounters when he’s not on “fishing trips” with his buddy. (Both wives are perplexed by the dearth of trout upon their husbands' returns.) Jack is not as meek as Ennis, and his sexuality is sometimes beyond his control. I think his character is just as compelling as Ledger’s, but I suppose he is in a more of a supporting role – a bottom, if you will.
Please see Brokeback Mountain. Movies like this are rarely made (hell – the script for this has been shopped around since 1997!) and it is an excellent opportunity to see wonderful, heartfelt performances. Ang Lee’s directing was fantastic. He seems to be especially sensitive to textures. One of the first shots is of mountains and foothills early in the morning. Whereas with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he might have worked with greens and Sense and Sensibility was all pinks and greens and haze of the English countryside, there were a lot of muted neutrals in this film. Layers of grey mountains, entire screens of creamy sheep, and shadow and focus went a long way in setting the mood of the story. Breathtaking.