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Casual ranch-hand Ennis (Heath Ledger) and rodeo cowboy Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) meet on a seasonal job at Wyoming's Brokeback Mountain in the summer of 1963, looking after a flock of sheep. They forge the camaraderie of isolated men, but it soon turns into something more intense. They remain in contact through two decades, even after Ennis weds his childhood sweetheart Alma (Michelle Williams). Over in Texas, Jack meets and marries rodeo queen Lureen (Anne Hathaway). Both couples have children. If confused at first about their affection for each other, the men continue to keep up appearances as fishing buddies, meeting a few times over each year, as they journey through lives never fulfilled, often conflicted, yet always drawn together.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
A bond that's a secret is more powerful than one open to the world, and doubly so if it's secret for more than one reason. Annie Proulx's short story makes for a riveting film about the complexity of human nature, relationships, love, bigotry and betrayal. This secret bond forms when Ennis and Jack, both lonely men when they meet, are isolated in a majestic setting. To their confused surprise - and ours - these two hitherto heterosexual cowboys discover an attachment that is more complicated than sex, but certainly bound up with it.

In a sense, Proulx is exploring the essence of that human mystery we call love across the gay/straight divide, as if to argue that nobody understands love, whether we are talking about straight or gay or, as in this case, bi. But the film is engorged by many more layers, as we track back and forth the landscapes of Wyoming and Texas, gradually responding to the impact of the land on the characters. We learn briefly of their love-starved backgrounds, and get a sense of the narrow minded society in which they struggle to find their inner selves.

A melancholy mood haunts the film, despite its sensational landscapes, as the internal and intimate scenarios, only captured through the eyes of the characters and their scant words, their arbitrary actions, grow ever more conflicted. Ang Lee keeps the focus very much on the two Ennis and Jack, but always places them in their social and physical context, so that we are aware of the bigger picture as time passes, but remain close up to the emotions of the two friends.

The film won the Golden Lion at Venice (2005) and will surely win many more hearts, with its compassion, observation and splendid filmmaking. It's a grand work of lasting value. Ang Lee talks about directing from the heart on the DVD, which also includes interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana and a making of feature.

Published July 20, 2006

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(US, 2005)

CAST: Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Linda Cardellini, Anne Hathaway, Michelle Williams, Randy Quaid

PRODUCER: Diana Ossana, James Schamus


SCRIPT: Larry McMurty, Diana Ossana (story by Annie Proulx)


EDITOR: Geraldine Peroni, Dylan Tichenor

MUSIC: Gustavo Santaolalla


RUNNING TIME: 134 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: January 26, 2006


SPECIAL FEATURES: Features - on being a cowboy; directing from the heart - Ang Lee; Interviews with Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossano; The making of the film

DVD DISTRIBUTOR: Roadshow Entertainment

DVD RELEASE: July 20, 2006

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