With seven Golden Globe nominations and several Oscar nods surely to follow, "Brokeback Mountain" is a must-see.
This groundbreaking film challenges assumptions and shatters stereotypes. It is about two young men trying to get by, who pass the time while their emerging friendship takes a turn for the unexpected.
There are no explosions, mysterious murders or typical Hollywood drama. Just two men, alone in the world, searching for companionship and camaraderie.
Director Ang Lee delivers a stunning look into the "love that dare not speak its name." With a soft and subtle glimpse into the rugged masculinity of young ranchers, Lee also lets audiences get a peek at the part of men's lives that goes unexamined all too frequently. (The film is based on an Annie Proulx short story. "Lonesome Dove" author Larry McMurtry co-wrote the screenplay with Diana Ossana.)
"Brokeback Mountain" reveals the tenderness that exists in millions of homosexual relationships. Participants often don't define themselves as gay or lesbian, and they certainly don't think they should discuss their relationship. This film helps give a name and face to some of those complex stories.
Like most gay folks who had to struggle and learn about their own sexuality without any help from family or friends, the lead characters, Ennis (Heath Ledger) and Jack (Jake Gyllenhaal) find themselves in rough and foreign terrain.
The very brief (and disappointingly sanitized) first of two sex scenes will surprise people. It is not the homosexual sex that makes it shocking as much as it is the awkward and aggressive intensity that captivates these men.
This film is exactly what our society needs.
Gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender characters are still widely used as extras and comic relief. But in "Brokeback Mountain," there is nothing funny about the homophobia, loneliness and frustration that come with living with a secret as huge as the mountain where they met.
Our culture needs honest and accurate depictions of gays and lesbians. Where are the queer athletes, the cowboys, the military officers and truck drivers in American cinema?
In recent years, gay and transgender films have received numerous nominations, awards and ticket sales. Look at "Monster," "American Beauty," "The Hours," "Angels in America" and others. This helps show that artistic leadership in Hollywood is finally starting to catch up, even though zealots in Washington are working to demonize gays and lesbians.
And in between Los Angeles and Washington, D.C., lies the heartland. With "Brokeback Mountain" hitting screens nationwide, the dialogue will hopefully grow. And like the wide open Wyoming spaces in the movie, there is plenty of room for wide open minds.
Sean Kosofsky is director of policy for Triangle Foundation, which produces Michigan's gay and lesbian film festival and lobbies for gay rights. He can be reached at email@example.com.