Before it ever came out, Brokeback Mountain was either denigrated or celebrated, depending on the speaker/audience, as "that gay cowboy movie". Now I, for one, have nothing against gay cowboys. I love them. It's a nifty expectation-crossing identity. But honestly, is it all that surprising?
The people I went to see this film with all cried. They cried because it was tragically romantic. Maybe they cried because they were gay. But I didn't. Do you want to know why? It wasn't because I'm not gay. Or because I don't like gay people. It's because I might be immune to sticky romance for its own sake. It's a fine movie, full of beautiful scenery and all that stuff, but honestly a movie with romance at its core won't do it. Now you might well ask why I'm all over Pride and Prejudice or Romeo and Juliet and in response I'll tell you what they have that this movie didn't: words.
Now the screenwriters here did a fine job as well. But in the aforementioned examples, words and their witty usage play a large role in my enjoyment of the piece (which is why Mercutio should have gotten the girl, right?). I will never know half of what these guys wrote, because I could not understand a damn word Heath Ledger said. Maybe he was disguising his Australian accent by being incomprehensible, but it's too bad Marlon Brando's dead because he could have given this kid elocution lessons.
I'm glad there's a "gay" movie out there being sold as a "love story" instead of a "gay movie." There shouldn't be distinctions like that anyway; as if I can't identify with a man or a woman or a lesbian or a dog, for that matter, and need to have a character just like me to relate to. I'm glad someone like Ang Lee took this on, and stars like Gyllenhaal and Ledger put themselves out there. But on the other hand, it feels cautious at the same time. How far "out there" are they really putting themselves? Is there going to be any backlash? And if there isn't, is it because people are accepting homosexuality, or because they're able to reconcile gay, manly cowboys away as being "not the same" as those flashy homos down the street?