It’s A Gay Western That’s Neither Gay Nor A Western. Discuss.

brokeback.jpgBy Kathryn
In an entirely (or almost entirely) unrelated-to-gay-weddings blog entry, I can’t help but offer up a quick entry for a wonderful film my partner and I saw last night: Brokeback Mountain (starring Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal).
As my partner and I drove home from viewing the film, still wiping away tears and asking ourselves how we could have been so silly as to have neglected to bring Kleenex to a film touted for its themes of loneliness and longing, we spent most of the drive speaking of our gratefulness to have found each other, but — more so — our gratefulness to live openly together.
As you may have read in your local reviews, this film does not feel like a “gay film.” Instead, it feels like a love story. The themes are universal, the acting is magnificant and the story is rich. There may be some who avoid seeing the film, just as they avoid taking an open look at what gay weddings are really all about. I speculate, though, that there will be many straight audience members who see this film and are surprised to find that they can identify so personally — on some level — with the main characters and their love story.
I noticed, for example, that not long into the film, I had forgotten about this being a love story between two men, and instead saw about two people who, for reasons both outside and inside themselves, are unable to find that “happily ever after” ending.
The supporting cast, led by Michelle Williams and Randy Quaid, is absolutely fantastic and the function of each character’s importance to the development of two lead characters, Jack & Ennis, is made clear without being heavy-handed. Jack talks enough to help us where he is, but we rely on the characters interacting with Ennis to understand him.
I can’t say enough about Ledger’s convincing work in this film. Gyllenhaal holds his own, with some scenes better than others, but generally is left in the dust by Ledger’s intensity, raw humanity, and nonverbal expressions. If his character, Ennis, can be in love with another man, it becomes almost easy to believe that if the right guy met the right guy and had an open mind, he, too, could find himself in a similar predicament.
For members of the GLBT community, it is easy to see this film and identify because most of us, on some level, found ourselves in a position where we had to make a choice about choosing to express ourselves differently or love someone of the same sex openly. The film confidently captures that moment when we choose to risk everything because it is something inside of us that feels so right and must find its way from its source to its keeper.
And, in the end, can’t we all identify with this experience? Hasn’t everyone had some situation when he or she needed to let his or her “little light shine” (as my mom likes to say) and been willing to risk everything for it?
When one understands the choices which Jack and Ennis make for their relationship — each declaring that he is “not queer” — it can only make one appreciate all the more the great gift it is for two people of the same sex to stand in front of their loved ones today and declare their love for each other — with or without the legal rights for which so many of us still wait.
Photo Credit: Brokeback Mountain, Focus Features

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