Posted by martinteller on June 16, 2012
How’s this for timely? Even later to the party than usual on this one, but maybe that’s for the best. Long after the sniggering puns on the title and awful “I wish I could quit you” jokes have died down, and also long after the hype over the film’s “bravery” has passed, I feel I can look at the film without any silly baggage. I don’t think it’s particularly brave to make a film about homosexual romance, but perhaps it was fairly bold at the time to market it to a mainstream audience. I’ve done no research on the history of queer cinema, but it did seem to usher in an era of increased enlightenment with regard to LGBT issues being addressed in pop culture. We certainly have a long way to go, especially in the political arena, but I believe that we’re seeing more and more gay-positive images in the culture with less and less backlash, and if Brokeback had anything to do with that, then the film should be applauded for its contribution.
As for the content of the film, it’s a solid entry in the “forbidden love” genre. I think Ledger’s performance might be just a touch overrated, but he’s certainly good, and I don’t think I’ve ever liked Gyllenhaal this much. Michelle Williams has a few terrific scenes, unfortunately she’s not in it that much but of course it’s not her story. Gustavo Santaolalla’s lovely, somber guitar score earned its Oscar. With those generic comments out of the way, I do have to say I didn’t really buy the romance. I can’t tell whether this is the performances, the writing, or my own inability to appreciate a homosexual relationship, but it did feel to me more like actors being “brave” than something genuine. You could make the case that Ennis and Jack are repressing their affection under layers of masculinity, but even in the moments when the masks are supposed to be off, I didn’t get the sense that these were two men in love (or even lust). But the characters, and the problems that the relationship caused, were compelling enough to hold my attention.
I’m struggling to find anything great about the movie, or any interesting thematic lines to follow. It’s pretty much what you’d expect and doesn’t really explore anything very deeply. But nothing about it earns my ire, either. It’s an all-around good flick, one that hopefully furthered the cause of gay acceptance in our society. Rating: Good