starring Heath Ledger, Jake Gyllenhaal, Michelle Williams, Anne Hathaway
screenplay by Larry McMurtry & Diana Ossana, based on the short story by Annie Proulx
directed by Ang Lee
by Walter Chaw SPOILER WARNING IN EFFECT. Ang Lee talks about Brokeback Mountain like it's a break that he needed after the pressure-cooker of Hulk, and the way that the film slinks around the topics that have garnered it its share of awards-season attention suggests that the director of The Ice Storm was well and truly on vacation. It's the most polite depiction of homosexuality you can imagine while still featuring passionate kisses and simulated doggy-style penetration; most of the ways that Lee chooses to illustrate his star-crossed lovers' isolation in the middle of the most closeted American genre are parsed from sub-par situation-comedy scenarios. I like when Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) sees his lover Ennis (Heath Ledger) for the first time in years and the two lock in a passionate embrace, mainly because by the revving-up of Gustavo Santaolalla's score and the look on Ennis's wife Alma's (Michelle Williams) face, it means we're about to get one of those hilarious scenes where the girlfriend walks in on something she wasn't supposed to see. It's a moment unworthy of the picture, just like another where Ennis flips Alma over during sex to simulate his stolen time with Jack, or when Alma chooses Thanksgiving dinner with Ennis, their kids, and her new husband to accuse him, histrionically, of indulging in gay love. I can't think of one good reason for Alma being made the straight man in an old gag, the victim humiliated, and the hysterical representative of society at large except that even at close to two-and-a-half hours, the film is so under-populated that Alma must serve triple duty to Jack and Ennis's shorthand romance. It speaks to Williams's burgeoning talent that she wears the burden well.