Tuesday, January 17, 2006

My take on the film all them gays is talking about

brokeback mountainAs predicted, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ seems to be headed for major success at this year’s Oscars by having won four major awards at last night’s Golden Globe Awards , including best drama and best director. It seems that every gay blogger who’s seen the film has written about it and it’s been written about by some of those who’ve not yet seen it. So although I saw it last week, I thought it a bit pointless writing my bit about the film and was going to resist doing so.

However, since my take on it seems to differ from the vast majority who’ve seen it, I’ve resisted resisting and here you have it. My take won’t be an attempt at a sophisticated critique of the film as that is best done by those who are good at that sort of thing.

In a nutshell, I was underwhelmed.

jake in brokeback mountainThe film was too long and dragged in the beginning and dragged at the end. For most of the film I felt quite detached from the main characters even though I had been prepared to be very engaged with them and their ultimately tragic love story. While I am quite sure that Ang Lee chose to film Annie Proulx's story because it’s a beautifully crafted tale (it is!) and it subverts the heterosexual stereotypes of the masculine myths of rural America (it does!) and it’s a subtle portrayal of how love can endure incredible obstacles and prejudice, both externally and internally imposed (yes, it ticks those boxes too), I couldn’t help thinking that he knew he was filming a stereotypical gay male (and straight female!) fantasy. Don’t be mistaken and assume that I didn’t like the film. I did.

It’s a good film but not a great one.

The acting was superb and even though I agree with many of the political/activist objections against Hollywood needing to rely on straight actors portraying gay characters, I can’t get too fussed about them. The incredibly huge landscapes contrasted perfectly with the small-town mentalities of the characters and the overwhelming repression of anything out of the ordinary. And, of course, the eye candy factor was way up there, especially if, like me, you're a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal. I could go on but I said I won’t and whether I go on or not, no amount of intellectualising about a film is going to make me like it any more.

When I see what I believe to be a great film, I feel an immediate visceral impact. Some films grow on you as time goes by or on subsequent viewing but, for me, that is very rare. Several friends of mine saw Brokeback Mountain twice with the space of a few days. Another friend who was a bit underwhelmed immediately after the film says that he felt quite haunted by it for the next day. He may have revised his opinion since then.

I’ve tried being haunted by it but my opinion remains unchanged.

It’s unlikely that I’ve put any of you off seeing it so please let me know what you think.

Read Lubin’s review for a good review that raves about the film.

11 Comments:

Blogger JP said...

I too was underwhelmed (as well you know) by this movie but, like so many times before at the movies, I had built myself up for a heart wrenching experience so maybe it's my own doing; having said that I would at least expect to feel something, which I didn't.

And whilst we're on the subject...does everybody really think the acting was amazing; I wasn't convinced by Heath Ledger at all, but then I'm not much of a lovey so what would I know.

11:25 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Too much of a build-up can lead to a big let-down but, like you, I'd still have expected to be moved in a way that I wasn't.

I do think Heath's acting was a really great portrayal of understated, repressed longing, lust and love.

If you click on my Jake pic, you go to his official website...be prepared to get lost there! ;)

11:32 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

I love wikipedia. It has some failings and I keep meaning to do a post about it but it's such a clever concept and I love the way it's so immediate: It has already been updated as regards Brokeback mountain:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brokeback_Mountain

11:43 am  
Blogger mike said...

Hmm, I'm the underwhelmed and subsequently haunted person, and I guess I'm still a little haunted by it. Part of me would quite like to see the film again, which is odd as I very rarely experience the urge to see any film more than once.

1:32 pm  
Anonymous Alan said...

As you konw I saw it twice in three days and must say I liked it even more the second time around. i was able to see much more of the film the second time and picked up on a number of small touches missed the first time. I have just finished the short story too. The story is well worht a look over and you can see the film is very faithful. Dont think that you were ment to be convinced that Heath Ledger was gay - the character he played denied his sexuality. Overall a brilliant film and should clean up at the Oscars.

2:05 pm  
Blogger CTG said...

Yeah - I haven't seen it yet. I'm not even sure if it was here or if it's still due to open. I am a fan of Jake Gyllenhaal - big time! lol. I will see it if it opens here. Its been all over the news with the Golden Globes, so maybe more South Africans will take to the cinema and check it out. Have a good one. CTG

8:25 am  
Blogger kyknoord said...

I think I'll wait for it to come out on video.

9:53 am  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

mike: I tend to not see movies twice unless separated by many years. if you go again soon, it'll be interesting to hear your verdict.

alan: sweeping up the Oscars doesn't necessarily make for a good film. I've read the short story before - it appeared in the New Yorker magazine before it appeared in an anthology - and loved it.

ctg: I think it opens in SA in March.

kyknoord: typical straight man - doesn't want to be seen watching a moffie film! :-)

Today's word verification thingy:

baobstap = baobab strap?

12:08 pm  
Blogger CTG said...

Hi there. Yeah - I e-mailed the cinema - it opens here March 10th. I'll be off to check it then. Have a good one! CTG :-)

2:21 pm  
Blogger KushtyKushty said...

Here, here, I really enjoyed reading your review and found it refreshing. Me and my partner were also less than overwhelmed by the movie. Will check out Lubin's review and if you are interested I have a review of the film on my site too. By the way I LOVE the background wallpaper you have x!
Kushty

8:48 pm  
Blogger Reluctant Nomad said...

Been to read your review and agree with most of what you say about it.

Thanks for the compliment about the wallpaper. Seems like I'll keep it after all.

9:47 pm  

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