So I finally got around to seeing Brokeback Mountain after over three weeks of foiled plans featuring noncommital friends and sold out shows.
It’s a stunning film, but you already know that. What you don’t know is the conversation that two women were having as I exited the theater.
Girl 1: “So, Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) was like, all gay, right? And Ennis (Heath Ledger) was more, like, two thirds?”
Girl 2: “I dunno, I think they were both sort of a mix. It’s like a glass of water,” and here I closed my eyes to envision a brimming mug of Homosexuality, “and both their glasses were at least a little full, but Jack’s more than Ennis’s.”
“Pardon,” I said to the complete strangers, “but it’s not about fractions. In fact, it’s not even really about how gay either of them is. There is no ‘how gay’. They’re both gay, period. It’s really about personality. Jack is energetic and extroverted, and he’s going to invest himself in all his relationships to the fullest extent that he can, be it the love of his life or his young son. Ennis is introverted and can barely spit out a complete sentence, let alone communicate with the people he loves. So it’s not about gay, it’s about personality.”
That’s the real beauty of Brokeback. The film maintains an even, subdued tone, creating a tension that is broken only a few times by eruptions of intensely powerful emotion. In this way, it mirrors the minds of the two protagonists incredibly well. It is an intensely human story, and when the credits roll and the lights come up, it’s almost jarring to remember that you’ve been watching a movie for the past two hours. I know who I’m rooting for on Oscar night.