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So we went to Toronto today to see Brokeback Mountain.

It was a bad day to go to Toronto, and I compounded it by suggesting to [livejournal.com profile] da_lj that we should go the whole way by car, rather than parking at the subway station and taking the train in. Traffic was nutty, plus people [including both of us] were not driving well. I expect that they're nervous about their Xmas shopping.

Brokeback Mountain stars Alberta in the role of Wyoming. Far down the cast list are some humans; there are also notable performances by sheep and some shepherd dogs.

I'm not as impressed as I might have expected. And I'm going to write a very spoiler-y review.


Plot of the movie:

Two guys in their early 20s get a summer job as shepherds on a Wyoming mountain range. The sheep owner wants one of them to sleep in a tent near the sheep (which is illegal), so that the sheep avoid predators, and the other to sleep every night in the legal camp. They do that for a while, but one night, they both get really drunk on whiskey, and the second guy doesn't go up the mountain, but instead falls asleep in front of the fire. Once the fire dies down, he gets cold and shivery, and the other guy tells him to get in the tent. They sleep for a while. Then they fuck.

The next day, they tell each other it's a one-shot deal, and each tells the other that he's not queer.

Some time later, they fuck again. And kiss, too.

The sheep owner comes by and sees them wrestling shirtless one morning.

Some time later, they get called back down the mountain; it's the end of the season. As they separate, it's unclear they'll ever see each other again. The quiet, barely controlled one breaks down and sobs. He then gets married and has two kids.

The other one goes off into rodeo, and marries a woman he meets in the rodeo, after unsuccessfully cruising a rodeo clown.

Four years later, the less quiet one mails a postcard to the other, saying he's passing through. They re-meet, and kiss passionately. The wife of the quiet one sees them kiss. They fuck in a motel, and then spend a weekend "fishing".

Over the course of the next 12 years or so, they meet every six months or so, "fishing" in the Wyoming mountains. The less shy one wants them to move in together, and is pretty much able to confess he's in love with the staid one. The other is resistant, even after his divorce. The more openly queer one eventually gets bashed to death; he'd probably gotten himself a boyfriend. The quiet one keeps his jacket and a postcard of the mountain where they spent that first summer hanging in a closet in his trailer.


So, what's wrong here?

Well, it's the same old trope, for starters: the more gay one has to die. I mean, it's not Suddenly Last Summer in its ludicrousness, but still, one wonders what Vito Russo would have had to say about the most "important" "gay" movie of the year featuring the same ending as those from the 1950s. No, I was not expecting them to live happily ever after. But still, it's as though we're still at that frontier of, "Wow! You mean cowboys can fall in love with each other and have a tragic unfulfilling yet sexually really hot relationship ending in a violent death, too? Cool!"

And the other aspect that's at least a little obnoxious to me: the way that the fiction uses the [entirely gorgeous] landscape and the playing as a way of juvenilizing the guys' relationship. Maybe this is really just an objection to the way that men are portrayed in the movie, and that they're involved in ways beyond typical homosocial patterns is secondary; that's what [livejournal.com profile] da_lj suggests. But what do we see them doing with their wives? Working, selling, parenting, and the like. What do they do together? Play on horseback, jump naked off cliffs into rivers, drink too much, chase their camping gear down the river.

Yes, their attraction for each other feels a lot more believable than in movies from the 80s, say. The looks they give each other, the squareness of Heath Ledger's jaw, all of that makes it a much better acted movie than those older movies, as well.

And yes, the actors are pretty, but really, if I wanted to watch a vaguely mainstream movie just for the [simulated] sex scenes, give me Wes Ramsey and Steve Sandvoss in Latter Days ["Wow! You mean a Mormon missionary can fall in love with an LA party boy and have an unfulfilling yet sexually really hot relationship almost ending in a violent death, but saved by the power of love? Cool!"] any day.

Overall? It's ok. It's not a great movie, and I can't help but feel like it's 2005's instance of Philadelphia, [which, ironically, I've never seen] and I'm going to probably feel that even more after next year's Oscars.

Edited to fix the error that the shepherds are to sleep near the sheep, not with them... *sigh*
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