Everybody's a critic: 'Brokeback Mountain'

Friday, February 10, 2006
A scene from 'Brokeback Mountain'

Two and a half stars (out of four)

I looked forward to a realistic, unflinching, poignant portrayal of love between cowboys who happened to be born attracted to the same sex. I was half-rewarded.

While the performances are Oscar-worthy, the actors can't make the characters likable. We don't understand the bond between the men, especially because their first passionate encounter occurs after they've been drinking. However, I admired the story of a dream deferred.

Ennis states, "If you can't fix it, you gotta stand it."

The bleached-out existence of "standing it" is painted in stark contrast to the vivid beauty of their mountain. In "riding it out" rather than pursuing their relationship, they never find fulfillment and cause pain for those who love them … a good moral in a film that some may find to lack any.

-- Brooke Clubbs, professor

Three stars (out of four)

In "Brokeback Mountain," the relationship between Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) seems to come out of nowhere. The film's first hour chronicles the two ranchers herding sheep on the titular mountain while forging a friendship.

Then, suddenly and violently, the relationship escalates to sex.

It is difficult to empathize with these characters and the ensuing tragic difficulties they face when it's never clear why they are so deeply in love. When they leave Brokeback Mountain and each other behind to start "normal" lives, one is left with the feeling that these are just flawed men making poor decisions.

Ledger and Gyllenhaal certainly deserve their Oscar nods. Their performances make the movie worth seeing, even if the story leaves too many questions about their relationship.

However, if it takes Best Picture, the academy will be recognizing its groundbreaking subject matter rather than the film's artistry.

-- Bob Clubbs, drama teacher

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