Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Brokeback Mountain (2005)

I find myself inexplicably flummoxed in attempting to craft a proper review of this film. Usually when this happens (i.e. A History of Violence, Barton Fink, Resurrection of the Little Match Girl), it's because there's so much going on within the film's guts that I have trouble sorting it out. Here, though, my attempts to dig into the film are stymied because, as part of its modus operandi, it's laid everything out in the open. It's a strong, sober and careful film, and part of that means that the point of the film is clear without being overwrought. The irony, of course, is that this stark film which so readily bares itself is about the price of emotional internalization. But then, that's obvious. I'm not telling anything that can't be understood even at a cursory glance. So I can praise the acting, which is uniformly excellent, especially from Heath Ledger who is entirely deserving of every accolade tossed his way. (When the facade cracks, like his breakdown in the alley or his reaction to the postcard in the closet, it's wrenching.) I can praise the pacing -- rare is the film that manages to so gracefully constrict the passing of time using mostly visual cues and the occasional offhand line of dialogue. I can praise the gorgeous cinematography, and I can praise Ang Lee's sure-handed direction. I can praise the editing and the costumes and the score... hell, everything is praiseworthy. But insight is not something I can offer. This may sound like a critique, but it's not. It's actually kind of refreshing -- the film simply exists as it is, and that's all it needs to be. Beautiful stuff.

Grade: B+


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