Ennis and Jack are two shepherds who develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends.Ennis and Jack are two shepherds who develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends.Ennis and Jack are two shepherds who develop a sexual and emotional relationship. Their relationship becomes complicated when both of them get married to their respective girlfriends.
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.
- Oct 28, 2011