In 1963, two young men hire on as ranch hands in the Wyoming mountains. During the long months of isolation, an unusual bond starts to develop between them, one which they are only vaguely aware of -- until one night when it rises to the surface in a passionate encounter. When the season ends, they part ways, only to realize the true depth of their feelings. Thus begins a decades-long affair that the two of them desperately try to hide from those around them -- one which will prove simultaneously beautiful and devastating.Written by
Capriccio Espagnol, op. 34
Composed by Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov
Arranged by Jim Long
Performed by Philharmonica Slavonica
Courtesy of Point Classics LLC See more »
Six years later, it hits even harder.
I've always admired this film to a certain extent, but I think the thing that always kept me from loving it was that it never resonated with me emotionally. I would get attached while watching it, but all of those feelings would leave me fairly soon afterward. It had been about five years since I'd seen the film, and in that time I have grown up a lot, fallen in love, had my heart ripped to shreds and fallen back in love again and I think this growth personally has really opened me up to a place in my mind and heart to embrace this film more than most other screen romances that exist. Almost immediately it hit me harder than it had before and after a day since I watched it, the pain and heartache I experienced during it still remains at my core.
It's a love film told non-traditionally, but not because it's two men, that doesn't even factor into the depiction of it. It's nontraditional because it's two people fighting against the love and it's accuracy in this is startling. How there are times where you can hate the person you love, hate so many things about them and hate that you are in love with them, but you can't give it up at all. You can't walk away from it because it's like an addiction and I think this film more than any before it captures that remarkably.
A lot of this lies in the writing, but of course the performances from Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal certainly play a key factor in capturing it. Their characters take the love in different forms, Ennis fighting himself over it and Jack fighting the world because of it, but both actors capture exactly what they need to and bring this magnetism that really sparks. Gyllenhaal's openness is beautiful, his determination to make the love work and to just exist the way he wants to, he definitely provides the emotional anchor for the film and gives a heartbreaking portrayal.
It's Ledger, of course, who steals the show though, with a kind of transcendent performance that we're treated to maybe once a decade. He becomes this character in such a vivid way that you don't even recognize the actor inside the role anymore. Gyllenhaal is Jack and hits the surface notes expertly, but you can still see Jake Gyllenhaal in there. Heath Ledger is completely gone and from the very beginning of the film we have Ennis and we have him until the very end. This character is an incredibly difficult one to take on, he could have easily been someone who was hard to like or sympathize with due to his internalizing and his refusal to fully embrace the relationship and who he is, but that's what makes it hit even harder, thanks to Ledger's brutal work.
You see the pain in this person living a lie in every moment we have with him, with that turned in mouth and speech pattern that always sounds like it's hurting him to let anything out because he's afraid of how people are going to react. It's a performance unlike any other out there and in the end it's one that brings me to my knees. "Jack, I swear," was always a line that floored me when I was watching it but now it's at a point where just thinking of the line and the way that Ledger delivers it brings some water to my eyes.
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