'Brokeback Mountain'

Nominee: Best Spiritual Film of 2005

Some movies are spiritual not because of what the characters do or say but because of the film's impact upon the viewer. This is true of "Brokeback Mountain." True, it's a cinematic masterpiece with pitch-perfect performances, gorgeous cinematography, and evocative music, all put together under Ang Lee's sensitive direction. But that's not the reason why so many people are saying that this movie stays with them for days after they see it.

The story follows two gay cowboys over the course of several decades, revealing the pain of hidden and split identities. From the opening scene--when they are waiting to hear about work, Ennis slumping shyly behind his hat, Jack leaning against his truck with an almost brazen friendliness--to the heartbreaking scene toward the end when Ennis visits Jack's boyhood room, the storyline is pulled forward by an excruciating feeling of yearning. This is about more than sexual desire. These characters are incarnating the universal human need for wholeness, fulfillment, and a true love who accepts them as they really are.


All this is conveyed without making political statements or pointing fingers at villains. We find ourselves emotionally engaged not only with the story of Jack and Ennis but also with the reactions of the people around them, who mirror the hatred, fear, ambivalence, lack of understanding, and mystery still surrounding homosexual relationships in our culture. We can't help but put ourselves into this story--and most viewers, we suspect, will identify with more than one character.

"Brokeback Mountain" will evoke your compassion as you confront the deep ache of separation at the center of the story. It is also a cry for acceptance of these lovers who are forced to keep secret an essential element of who they are through the long and lonely years. Buddhist teacher Sharon Salzberg was once asked, "How do I open my heart?" She replied, "Usually, it's broken open." This film will break your heart and open it.

--By Frederic & Mary Ann Brussat
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