Tuesday, April 04, 2006

Brokeback Mountain

finally got around to writing one of these.. (sorry Masooma!)

I am probably one of very few Muslims who actually went out and paid money to watch this movie, but as a self-proclaimed movie buff, I felt it necessary to defend my title. My first mistake was in not realizing that this was, after all, a cowboy movie. I don't like cowboy movies. Second, I'm not a big fan of sappy romance either. There's two strikes. I'm just presenting you with my biases before I let you know what I really thought.

The opening was very slow. Pretty much a staring contest between two very good looking men (if I do say so myself) which wasn't too bad from an eye-candy point-of-view but rather pointless and boring, in general. The two men are looking for jobs and end up tending sheep on Brokeback Mountain together and slowly fall into love (or lust, depending on your definition). They have the talkative and sensitive Jack Twist (the classic 'wife') and the quiet and reserved Ennis (the dominant partner). The fact that the writers so cleanly classified certain behaviors as masculine or feminine was rather irritating for me from a feminist point-of-view. Later, when they part ways and end up marrying women and raising families, Jack is shown as an ineffectual husband, and a person with a weak will and it is implied that this is because he is 'feminine' or subordinate and needs a "man" to support him.

They did try to avoid any stereotypical 'gay' behavior, though (as far as cleanliness, fashion sense or show tunes are involved) and kept any explicit scenes between the two men to a minimum. The two love scenes were mostly in the dark and only about a minute or two long each though there were about 4 or 5 kissing scenes. There were love scenes between each man and his wife as well which were considerably more graphic.

The story and plot were lacking, but the acting was very well done. Ennis' wife (played by Michelle Williams from Dawson's Creek) does an exceptional job in creating a sympathetic female character in this movie centered around the love between two men. The dialogue could have used some work too.
"I wish I knew how to quit you"? Delivered in a Texan accent?? Save me from the cheese. PLEASE.

And with all romantic films there must, of course, be some tragic angst because we all know that true love was never meant for senior citizens. All in all, this film played out like any 90's drama romance (like Legends of the Fall or Before Sunrise) with the female lead substituted for a male instead. I didn't find anything orginal about the story or anything that might create a precedent or establish a brand new genre for any other films about 'alternate lifestyles'.

As you can tell, I can't understand why it would win (or even be nominated) for Best Picture or Best Screenplay, but I will admit that it wasn't quite as bad as I thought it would be.

For a more entertaining film about an unconventional love affair, I suggest Memoirs of a Geisha.


reformist_muslim said...

interesting review, pretty much in line with what my friends who have seen the film said.

considering how brilliant a film crash was, i find the notion that brokeback didn't win best picture because hollywood is uncomfortable with gay films absurd.

Bilquees said...

Nice review. I couldn't understand how anyone could think of Brokeback as a love story. A story of obsession, yes, but not love. The characters were dishonest with practically everyone in their lives. Even the scene some found touching -- the shirt hanging in the closet -- could be viewed as yet another dishonest act. He professes to love the other cowboy, yet he can't even ask his permission to keep his shirt to hold on to as some sort of physical reminder of their relationship.

I'm glad it didn't win. And my feelings about the film have nothing to do with the characters being gay. If these same people were a man and a woman, my opinion wouldn't change. It was no love story. But the very fact that so many people see it as a love story makes it clear why there are so many problems in the world if we can't even understand that love is not obsession.


Safiya said...

I didn't go and see this film, not because it was a love story between two men, but because it sounded dull.

For me, too many longing glances and angst makes for a dull plot.

Thanks for reviewing this.

liberal fundo said...

ah bilquees! you should have written this review... i didn't even realize the obsession aspect of their relationship, mostly because love stories bore me to death and i couldn't tell you the difference between one kind of romance or another... (safiya's on the same page as me with that one i think)

and reformist, the fact that brokeback even won best screenplay is still a surpise to me.. crash, as a film unto itself (ignoring it's unsatisfactory portrayal of certain issues), was still a film that struck you and left an impression, which is what i think really makes it a best picture

Just me said...

Bilquees, you took the words right out of my mouth.

I've been reading raving reviews about this movie elsewhere and I simply couldn't come to terms with it.

To finally get here is a great relief - I was beginning to think I was conservative?

But erm, (this is kinda stupid but I had to ask) do you think this view could be part in lieu to an islamic upbringing?

hamesha: said...

thanks for the informative review... i watched the movie a while back, did a post about this and a number of other 'bold movies of 2005' a few days back... The Constant Gardener tops the category for me and I hope to read a review on that here sometimes. Other contenders included Paradise Now, which I really hope you can review at some point.