Rating: Active Eruption
What a powerful, haunting movie. This groundbreaking, unconventional love story will leave you pondering the many subtle conflicts and issues for days after seeing it. It's basically a love affair between two humans that occurs in a place and time when it was forbidden and downright dangerous. Two young men meet while herding sheep in the wilderness of Wyoming, and one night they cross the forbidden line. That begins their intermittent relationship of 20 years. After that initial summer together, they marry women and start families, and try to survive economically and emotionally. They get together for so-called fishing trips several times per year, in an effort to sustain or at times, try to end their relationship together.
The acting on the part of everyone is brilliant; these are career-making performances. Heath Ledger (Ennis Del Mar) is getting all the awards buzz, but I believe that Jake Gyllenhall (Jack Twist) had more of a challenge because he was the initiator of the homosexual experience and embraced it. They are both hunky heterosexual men in real life, so I think Heath Ledger had less of a stretch playing the part of the homosexual-in-denial in secret and a heterosexual in public.
In addition to the love story, director Ang Lee cleverly uses sets as a device to convey the sociocultural values of the American West in the 1960s and 1980s. The western locales were rusty ghost towns filled with dreary, miserable people, as if the rest of the country had left them behind and they were being punished for their social biases and intolerance. In contrast, the love scenes occurred in the most staggeringly beautiful natural settings.
This is a must-see movie of 2005, and in all likelihood will pick up many awards during the season.