Brokeback Mountain (2005)

brokeback mountain poster 2005 movie jake gyllenhaal heath ledger
9.5 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
Acting: 10/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great looking, good cast, daring story

Sometimes overplays the emotions of the two characters

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Brokeback Mountain

Studio:  River Road Entertainment

Genre(s):  Drama/Romance

Release Date(s):  September 2, 2005 (Venice International Film Festival)/December 9, 2005 (US)

MPAA Rating:  R

brokeback mountain ennis jack sheep jake gyllenhaal heath ledger

What happens on Brokeback stays on Brokeback…unless you are really, really bad at keeping secrets

Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledge) is paired with Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) in 1963 to watch sheep on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming.  The event changes the two men when a nighttime encounter turns into a lifelong relationship.  As Ennis tries to forget the encounter by marrying Alma Beers (Michelle Williams), Jack also moves on by wedding Lureen Newsome (Anne Hathaway).  As the years pass, Ennis and Jack’s forbidden love not only changes them but becomes something that could be dangerous.

Directed by Ang Lee, Brokeback Mountain is based on the 1997 short story by Annie Proulx.  The film was met with massive critical acclaim and a big box-office return.  Despite being a favorite by critics for Best Picture, the movie was surprisingly upset by Crash after a push by Oprah Winfrey for that film.  The movie won Academy Awards for Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, and Best Original Score with nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Ledger), Best Supporting Actor (Gyllenhaal), Best Supporting Actress (Williams), and Best Cinematography.  The movie was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress in 2018.

Brokeback Mountain was a revolution that almost became a punchline.  The movie quickly became known as the “gay cowboy” movie, but despite this moniker, it was credited for mainstreaming LGBT stories in the cinema (and in turn on television).  Because of the storyline, the film was somewhat divisive (leaving an opening for Crash).

brokeback mountain ennis jack kiss heath ledger jake gyllenhaal

Seriously, “forbidden romance” guys…remember? A secret?

Brokeback Mountain is a romance, but it is also a great character study.  The two characters both have the same desire, but they have different reactions to it.  Jack Twist is more open to the idea of a gay lifestyle but also more promiscuous.  He loves Ennis, but he needs the contact regardless who it comes from.  Ennis is the more resistant to a gay life but is clearly the one completely in love with Jack.  This dynamic as it unfolds over the years is interesting, but sometimes it feels that it gets overplayed.

The two actors really embodied their roles.  Ledger played Ennis as quiet and sullen and Gyllenhaal played Jack as more free spirited.  They were backed up by the great support of both Williams and Hathaway as the suffering lovers, but the movie also features appearances by Linda Cardellini, Anna Faris, and Kate Mara.  Randy Quaid appears at the beginning of the film and sued when he felt he was misled about the movie’s release scope (believing it was going to be a small arthouse film, he ended up dropping the suit).

brokeback mountain ennis jack riding in river heath ledger jake gyllenhaal

“Hey, Jack…let’s think of more ways we can sabotage our romance!”

The movie looks amazing.  Ang Lee has always known how to get great visuals in his films, and Brokeback Moutain is one of his best looking films.  The movie has the contrast of the small dusty towns and the glory of the Canadian Rockies.  The love scenes are shot in a way that are both shocking and sometimes tender which also shows the dynamic of the relationship.

Brokeback Mountain is not a film for everyone, but it is a film that tries to demonstrate that romance doesn’t have to be between a man and woman to make a story.  The lasting effects of this movie did change cinema and many claim helped “mainstream” LBGT films.  It seems partially true, but it seems like it is going to take more than just this movie to make that happen…but Brokeback Mountain was a big first strike.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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