Brokeback Mountain was released in 2005 to a great deal of controversy. The primary source of the controversy is the fact that the two main characters engage in a homosexual relationship, an act that many consider offensive and immoral. I tried to approach this movie without bias, despite the immense amount of negative attention the film had received prior to my viewing it.
The two main characters are Ennis Del Mar, played by Heath Ledger, and Jack Twist, played by Jake Gyllenhaal. They are both cowboys who meet in Wyoming when they are hired to take a herd of sheep into the mountains for a few months. Other major characters include Ennis' wife, Alma, who is played by Michelle Williams, and the rancher who hires the two men, Joe Aguirre, who is played by Randy Quaid.
Director Ang Lee surprised everyone by taking on this project. He had directed relatively few movies beforehand, and suddenly decided to do a romance, only one involving men. He later won the Academy Award for Best Director for his work in this film.
One of the first things that struck me about this film was the simply breathtaking scenes of the Rocky Mountains. Throughout the first half of the film, we are treated to amazing scenery as the two cowboys lead their herd of sheep through the mountains. Although I later found out that the film was made in Canada, I can say from experience that the mountains in the western United States look very similar to the ones in this movie.
I thought that the acting in this film was really good. Heath Ledger was particularly good playing the role of the quiet, gruff cowboy who is ashamed of his secret homosexuality. Jake Gyllenhaal plays the more extroverted and sensitive cowboy who pursues the relationship throughout the film. Randy Quaid's role is small, but he carries off the part of the conservative rancher well. Many of the other actors in smaller roles also did excellent jobs and I was very impressed by the people who played Jack Twist's parents.
The controversial sexuality in this film is not flaunted nearly as much as many other films I have seen. Although there is some male nudity, it is only very brief and does not occur during the sex scenes. The sex scenes themselves don't show much at all and are survivable by the most devout heterosexuals. If you were worried about seeing homosexual sex, I can, as a heterosexual, assure you that this film is not graphic and it is not an important part of the film.
With that in mind, the subject of this film is not homosexuality, which most people seem to believe. The real issue being discussed in the movie is the concept of losing opportunity and not taking chances for the sake of happiness. The film addresses regret, sadness, and loss and could have been just as effective with a heterosexual relationship as opposed to a homosexual one.
In conclusion, I found this movie to be very enjoyable and felt that the negative criticism was poorly targeted. It is a good movie with great acting and addresses issues that we face in everyday life. This film might even encourage you to take a chance and enjoy life, rather than live in a situation that you hate.