OK, due to cultural osmosis, even if you haven’t seen this movie, you probably have some idea what it’s about. Brokeback Mountain (2005) is the gay cowboy movie. I mean, that’s simplifying the plot an almost criminal amount, but that’s just how everyone thinks of it. That’s how I thought of it, until right now, as I just finished watching it.
I assumed, from what I gathered from cultural references to the movie, that this movie would follow the two cowboys, played by Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, slowly growing closer until the movie culminates in one climatic homoerotic camping trip in the film’s third act. But, nope.
I also really expected the film to by very subtle with any homoerotic content but they show more than you’d expect.
It’s not even 30 minutes into the movie before we get our first gay sex scene. That’s just efficient story telling right there. No beating around the bush, no hinting at sexual tension for an hour and a half. It is minute twenty-seven and we get Heath Ledger spitting into his hand while bending Jake Gyllenhaal over.
I expected it to be just a gay cowboy movie. But, it’s so much more.
After the initial sexual encounter, the rest of movie is about them spending the next twenty years trying to keep their relationship a secret from their wives and society. We watch two men who are clearly in love with each other unable to admit it to themselves or to the world out of fear and it’s just heart breaking.
I also fully expected the movie to be disrespectful to the gay community and show homosexuality in a negative light. And, in my opinion, it didn’t. It wasn’t about two gay cowboys banging in the woods. It was about two men in love being kept apart because of society. Two men who could never be together but decide to be anyway, even if its just for short “fishing” trips a few times a year.
And it’s heart breaking because the movie starts in the 1960s, so you know it won’t be a happy ending.
If you’ve never seen it or only think of it as the gay cowboy movie, I suggest you give it a watch, because it’s so much more.