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Brokeback Mountain - Preview

Brokeback Mountain

Preview by Jack Foley

IT WOULD be churlish and foolhardy to write off Ang Lee’s Brokeback Mountain as merely ‘a gay western’.

Based upon E Annie Proulx’s iconic 30-page short story, anticipation surrounding the film has been building ever since it was announced that Ang Lee was to direct.

Furthermore, it stars Heath Ledger in a career-best turn and Jake Gyllenhaal as the cowboys in question, with career-defining support from Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway.

But ever since it won the top prize at this year’s prestigious Venice Film Festival (where it faced some pretty stiff competition from George Clooney’s equally brilliant Goodnight, and Good Luck, the buzz surrounding this epic is decidedly Oscar-driven.

The film focuses on the friendship and eventual love affair between two sheep-herders in 60s Wyoming and is a beautifully filmed, brilliantly acted affair that unfolds in a mature and involving fashion.

Critics have already been lining up to heap praise on it, while advance screenings have even found favour among preview audiences.

Indeed, according to the film’s producer, even towns in America that may have been perceived as ‘unlikely to view’ have been clamouring to make sure it does make their cinemas.

It seems that websites have been created in America that allow people to lobby their cinema managers to make sure the film is shown if enough people register an intent to see it.

The groundswell of interest is just reward for Lee and his stars, who turned Proulx’s short story into something of a labour of love.

The film opens in the UK in December and is sure to figure prominently in the approaching awards season.

Critics who have already seen it in America have been full of praise.

The Hollywood Reporter, for instance, wrote ‘Brokeback Mountain will appeal to moviegoers who enjoy grand filmmaking and poignant love stories, whether gay, hetero or otherwise’.

And Variety stated: “This ostensible gay Western is marked by a heightened degree of sensitivity and tact, as well as an outstanding performance from Heath Ledger.”

RogerEbert.com, meanwhile, concluded that ‘Ang Lee’s film is not only a fine and gorgeous Western (in the first act), but an intimate epic love story in the classic Hollywood tradition’.