I think it’s probably hard to discuss Brokeback Mountain without talking about the hype: this film is considered by many to be a landmark either in Hollywood with regard to LGBTQ topics, or in LGBTQ cinema in general. Now, I don’t know much about the history of LGBTQ cinema – just what I got from a documentary I once watched in sociology class and one or two films – but I know that the reception which greeted Schindler’s List was somewhat overblown given the number of films which had already dealt with the holocaust. I suspect the same is probably true with this movie: enough prestige behind something (Ang Lee, two acclaimed young actors) and suddenly it’s a masterpiece.
It’s hard to separate the quality of Brokeback Mountain from the reception it got, much like it is hard to separate the quality of Schindler’s List from its reception; I’m sure there are a number of other instances I can’t think of but certainly The Best Years of Their Lives is a classic Hollywood example of the same phenomenon: the movie that broaches a topic for a wider audience is supposedly a masterpiece.
This is a well made film (high production values) with extremely committed performances from the male leads but which I gotta say is kind of boring. I understand that there’s a certain audience for this film which would be very happy to finally see a prestige picture like this address this kind of relationship, and there’s a further audience who wants to see a well-told love story, but I’m not 100% sure how well-told this love story really is.
I don’t know how this compares to the source material but I feel like the length is more than necessary for the story (though I understand that telling the whole story does necessitate some length) but I also find the pacing a little off. For example, it takes them not very long to start their relationship which feels inauthentic to me given the conditions of the time, and then it takes it’s time with the rest of the film. Maybe that’s as it should be, honestly, as I don’t know how else they would have told it. But when I think about this film compared to the (admittedly few) romantic dramas that I have actually really enjoyed, and something is missing, so I blame it on the pacing.
Still, there is nothing wrong with the film and I understand that it is sort of landmark. (Well, it’s probably a landmark.)