Nick’s review published on Letterboxd:
Brokeback Mountain presents gay romance in its most unfiltered, painfully realistic manner. In the wilderness of Wyoming, two cowboys fall in love in an equal parts homoerotic and homophobic setting, a love so eternal and so tortured, it's bound to bring everyone in its path pain and sorrow.
Brokeback Mountain is most impressive with its perfectly vivid depiction of closeted men's desperate efforts to blend in a straight people's world, which is unfortunately sign of its time, when most gay men were forced into heterosexual relationships due to pressures from the homophobic social ethos. We witness the equally tormented lives of the wives and children, whose wasted years devoted to their husband/father have all been a sham, and Michelle Williams was simply memorable playing such a complicated character that helps to echo the theme of the story, namely the devastating effects of homophobia on the LGBT community, as well as on the straight partners.
Then let's address the elephant in the room, Heath Ledger and Jake Gyllenhaal, the central stars of the project, whose portrait of the cowboys deserves every bit of the acclaim. Despite their heterosexuality in real life, they both delivered believable performances and overflowing chemistry, especially Ledger's performance at the very last scene, which has been praised by acting giants like Daniel Day Lewis, is simply one of the most heart-wrenching moments in LGBT cinema.
Ang Lee, who jumped out of his comfort zone to take on such tall order, was the ultimate mastermind behind Brokeback Mountain's enormous success. Instead of adopting a sentimental approach, Lee was surprisingly stingy with the placement of emotional outlets. He acted merely as an objective storyteller throughout the movie, incorporating tranquil scenery to the quiet storm of the plot development, and only dropped all defenses at the very last scene for a measly several seconds, when emotional release is simply inevitable, then cut away to the natural scenery again.
Brokeback Mountain is a lasting experience that provokes thoughts, an ode to the countless past lives whose tragedies are never represented. Ang Lee, with his cutting sensitivity and utmost respect, recreates such a conflicting world of desire and ache, as a perfect reminder of how far we've come, and how far we still have to go from here. Highly recommended.