What makes a film great? It is a fragile and subtle enterprise—one wrong note can pollute the entire experience. Brokeback Mountain is pitch perfect in this regard. There wasn’t an element out of place, a gesture that didn’t harbor important information, a scene that wasn’t exactly the right length. Every element of this film worked, and the accumulation of detail, of relationship building, of acting (there are several Academy Award's worth in this one) was absolutely exactly how it needed to be, and not a measure more. It is the best film of 2005.
I can’t help but notice technical elements in a film, even when I completely buy the reality I am expected to subsume myself to. The noticable feature of Brokeback Mountain was how slow it proceeded. There wasn’t a tracking shot in the entire film. The camera remained stationary, and life unfolded, slowly, and light lingered, and composition held, and one's emotional response to the held moment steepened. Imagery ruled, but so did character, and development, and poignant possibility. I have read that Annie Proulx, the writer of the originating short story, cried when she saw the film. The film got her characters spot on.
A gay Western? Hardly. A tragedy, yes. There is nothing more universal than this story of love and desire, and the damage wrought by both too little and too much honesty. We judge our art by the complexity and the truth of the telling. This story reads true in all its aspects. See this film.