Brokeback Mountain

In 1963, Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger), is a ranch hand looking for work, when he meets Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) at a prospective job interview. Both of them get work together as sheep herders in Wyoming, and spend their days and nights working closely together. During this, both men form a close bond, until unexpectedly for both of them, the bond turns into deep love. Ennis and Jack both go their separate ways after the work is done, and eventually both get married and have children. However, their love for each other refuses to die, and so they secretly meet once a year to continue the passion they have. Unfortunately, hatred and bigotry get in the way of them ever having a lasting relationship, and several unexpected twists and turns force both of them to find out how true love can hurt.

Heath Ledger gives a magnificent performance as Ennis, a man bought up to believe that loving someone of his own gender is wrong. Ennis’s stilted manner of speaking and movement show his inside repression, and how he can’t deal with the fact that he’s gay. His love for Jack is real, but he cannot express them in the way that he wants to, and so marries a woman in the hope of hiding his true self. This leads to disaster, as his wife and children eventually get hurt by his inability to come out. Ledger certainly deserves all of the accolades he has been getting, and is very memorable in a heartbreaking role. Jake Gyllenhaal shows once again why he is one of the best young actors around with a emotionally effective role as Jack. Jack truly loves Enis, but when Enis pushes him away from his life, he has no choice but to get married or risk being victimised because of his sexuality. The scenes where he longs to be with Ennis are very heartfelt and can be related to by people of any gender. Both actors give very subtle wonderful performances, and any future performances would surely be judged by the great ones they give here.

The women who play their wives are also deserving of praise. Michelle Williams as Enis’s wife gives a very understated performance as a woman who can’t understand how he can love another man, and feels betrayed that he hasn’t shown the same amount of love to her. The pain that Enis causes her is hard to watch at times, and it’s hard not to feel sympathy for her. Anne Hathaway plays Jack’s wife, and again performs above expectations as a woman who early on, figures out that her husband is gay, but says nothing about it, in order to ‘keep up appearances’. Both actresses have come very far from their beginnings in night time soap operas, and have hit their stride in well written roles.

This is the film that everyone has been talking about lately, and is certainly worthy of all the praise given to it. The performances of everyone involved is top of the range, and the direction by Ang Lee is very subtle and allows the story time to develop and reach its conclusion naturally. It’s ironic that the hatred and scorn directed at this film by certain individuals/groups, is the very hatred that prevents Ennis and Jack from expressing their love in the film. The rural atmosphere and early 60s attitudes in America made it impossible for them to live out their lives the way they wanted to, which is very tragic.

Hopefully people will see this film and judge it for what it is: a well told story about two people who genuinely love each other. Whenever they both meet, they come alive as never before, and certainly show more passion than they do in their sham marriages. This is a very moving powerful tale that is hard to miss, and come Oscar time, should hopefully get the awards it deserves. An instant classic.

Rating out of 10: 10


During the 1972 Munich Olympics, 11 Israeli sportsmen were taken hostage by the Black September Palestinian terrorist group. Despite the best efforts of negotiators, all of the hostages were killed. The film begins by sifting through the aftermath of these events and focuses on the attempts of the Israeli Secret Service, Mossad, to avenge the deaths. Mossad gathers together a team of five men to hunt down the organisers of the Munich attack, led by Avner (Eric Bana) a father to be who has to leave his new family behind as soon as Mossad calls. What follows is an exploration of soldier who must do his ‘patriotic duty’, despite his own personal beliefs. The consequences of the terrorists action become more far reaching than even he would have thought.

Eric Bana does well as Avner, a soldier haunted by past deeds, and by his current mission. Bana is able to convey the conflict that Avner feels when he has to assassinate the targets and sees that up close, the people he has to attack hold the same ideals as his own. Avner becomes increasingly paranoid about the safety of himself and his family and will do anything to protect them. This is one of the better roles that Bana has undertaken since moving to Hollywood, and shows more range in this role than in previous ones. Geoffrey Rush cameos as a government agent who totally believes that his methods are the correct ones, no matter who gets hurt along the way. Rush has made a niche in playing sinister shadowy characters and plays this one to his usual perfection. Daniel Craig, as one of the men on Avner’s team, and has a magnetic presence as a hitman who wants to see the mission through until the bitter end.

Director Steven Spielberg has presented a film steeped in vengeance that shows how vendettas can turn into a vicious circle without any end. The constant retaliation for previous deaths weighs heavily on the Mossad team, and they all wonder when it will end. The ‘eye for an eye’ mentality that has been drummed into them no longer seems so clear cut. Spielberg tries to stay neutral in the eternal Israel/Palestine debate, and attempts to show balance to each side. Every character in the film believes with utter conviction that they are right, and cannot see a different point of view.

The scenes where the agents plan their assasinations are well detailed and interesting to watch. When they carry them out, these scenes are tense to watch, and are very believable. The horrific injuries suffered by the innocent victims are harrowing to see, and these affect each of the agents in different ways. At times, the ‘Spielberg sentimentality’ does creep in - especially in the scenes with Bana’s family. These were obviously meant to show a human side to his character, but these seem to draw out the film somewhat, as there are other scenes in the film that show Bana’s humanity quite effectively anyway. The pacing of the film does tend to drag, and copious cutting of certain scenes could have helped to make the narrative more lucid.

Generally an interesting mix of fact and fiction, filmed in a ‘documentary style’. The actors effectively convey their conflict in how to deal with their professional/personal beliefs, and their regret when bystanders get in the way. This is one of the most adult of Spielberg’s recent output, with a violence quota topping anything he has previously done. However, these add to the message that ongoing violence for past actions never amount to anything, and that there is always someone else around the corner to pick up the baton of hate.

Rating out of 10: 7

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