“I wish I could quit you.” Sure make all the jokes about that line yet in the context of Brokeback Mountain it cuts quickly and to the core. Jack yells it at Ennis, then instantly regrets ever saying such a thing in the next minute as Ennis breaks down. This occurs at the movie’s heart and almost towards the later part of the film, a scene that is brutal and heartbreaking. I regret ever joining the other idiots in 2005 who made jokes off that line. I plead ignorance however that’s little to no excuse.
Ang Lee by 2005 was an established director, and even after gifting us with Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon he had more wonderful surprises up his sleeve. One of them was Brokeback Mountain, a film that reminds me of Delmer Daves’ westerns, those startling picturesque melodramas created in an era long gone by. Also I thought of films such as Black Narcissus, where the characters are unable to properly fulfill their own longings. Even though Jack and Ennis have a decades long relationship neither man due to society and their own separate lives cannot find happiness with each other.
That and each man goes along with societal expectations, well at least Jack does. Ennis fails to hide who he is from his wife, although the film never quite says if his kids picked up on him being in love with a man or not. Ennis has a temper that is on display multiple times, particularly during an awe inspiring fireworks scene that literally reflects the fireworks going on his own life.
Despite being focused on the two male leads the movie still has time for others, also concentrating on the women in the men’s lives. Alma grows to resent Ennis for not being around enough and uncovers his secret all too easily. Meanwhile Lureen either seems all to willing to ignore who Jack is or she focused too much on her business. Either way she seems the clichéd dutiful wife focused primarily on her business. I thought it was interesting how the movie only really showcases Ennis’ one daughter of the two, Alma Jr., although perhaps that’s due to only having so much time I suppose.
Jack on the other hand mostly keeps himself almost under wraps, only truly showing blatant emotion several times. The two men seem to be apart even when they’re together, and yet in a different time and place maybe things could have worked out. Perhaps that may have been the case, yet no one knows for sure. Life has an awfully funny way of working out, typically not in our favor.
Ang Lee has created a modern classic, one that still affects the viewer 16 years later. He adds to both the western and drama genres, and he reminds me of what I discover as a young man: Wyoming is so beautiful words cannot describe it at all. I can relate to Ennis’ struggle to find a meaningful relationship and connection with someone, and clearly the only person he ever landed with happened to be Jack. That’s something anyone straight, gay or otherwise can relate to easily.