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Brokeback Mountain

October 29, 2010

985. Brokeback Mountain
Directed by Ang Lee
Canada/USA, 2005
IMDB | allmovie

Reviewed by Ally
First viewing


Ranch hand Ennis del Mar (Heath Ledger) and rodeo cowboy Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) spend the summer of 1963 herding sheep on Brokeback Mountain in Wyoming. Over the summer they fall in love. The film follows their relationship over the course of 20 years, during which time Ennis and Jack both marry and start families.

Essential Scene:

The summer of ’63 comes to an end. Jack and Ennis prepare to return to their separate lives. They stiltedly discuss their plans for the future.

Jack: You gonna do this again next summer?

Ennis: Maybe not. Like I said, me and Alma’s getting married in November, so uh, I’ll try to get something on a ranch I guess. And you?

Jack: Might go up to my daddy’s place and give him a hand during the winter. I might be back… if the army don’t get me.

Ennis: Well I guess I’ll see you around, huh?

Jack: Right.

Much remains unsaid. Neither dares suggest they remain together. Jack gets into his pickup and, as he drives away, watches Ennis in his rearview mirror as he disappears into the distance.

Ennis begins to walk away, then steps into an alleyway. He doubles over and cries.


To my mind, Brokeback Mountain has a certain amount in common with Brief Encounter. Both are about people who find true love but are kept apart by their own adherence to social conventions. Be it adultery or homosexuality, the lovers fear their relationships would be frowned upon by the wider world and must therefore remain secret.

But while Laura and Alec in Brief Encounter are so terribly terribly eloquent, Jack and Ennis struggle to articulate (and, at first, even understand) their feelings. Nevertheless it becomes clear that the two men are soul mates.

I was pleasantly surprised by Brokeback Mountain. It doesn’t use its central same-sex relationship as “worthy” Oscar-bait, nor to be deliberately controversial. It’s sad, subtle, gentle and very human.

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