I felt weird coming out of Brokeback Mountain. When I usually do it’s because I couldn’t place my finger on what I was watching; Was it a love story? Or a love story dressed with gay rights politics? I’ve come to the conclusion that it tells its story and makes its point through the very tagline that it’s become famous for: Love is a force of nature.
E. Annie Proulx’s novella begins in 1960’s Wyoming with Ennis Del Mar (Heath Ledger) and Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal) for a seasonal job of sheepherding. During the months that follow, Jack and Ennis develop a friendship that eventually leads to a relationship. The two agree to keep that secret to themselves and to visit Brokeback Mountain every summer. But just as they didn’t plan on becoming lovers, Jack and Ennis also didn’t plan on other things.
The two of them marry later on in life; Jack to Lureen (Anne Hathaway) and Alma (Michelle Williams) to Ennis. Each develops within himself the mask of the heterosexual man living in a gay man’s body. All of which they have to do while being husband to their wives and fathers to their children.
You could argue that it’s a typical love story about forbidden love and the forces that can tear it apart. Such themes are explored in movies like Romeo and Juliet and Pride and Prejudice, but not without the classic heterosexual designation for its characters. The genius of the movie lies in the fact that it treats the subject matter of love and homosexuality as if it’s an everyday issue.
Whether you are gay or straight, male or female, pretty much all of the issues you have at the core are all the same to everyone else. There’s nothing special about falling in or out of love, being gay or being heterosexual, but there is in the way you deal with it. Jack and Ennis denied their sexuality to live a life they thought they wanted, when they really wanted was each other and Brokeback Mountain.