Where to begin?
Since last summer, since the first preview crept across the screen at the small artsy-fartsy cinema I frequent with obsessive regularity, I have wanted to see this movie. Knowing the story ended sadly, that there would be no HEA, I still had to go, because of the intensity of its forbidden romance. I wasn’t disappointed, but I was horribly frustrated at the futility and destruction of so many lives. I’m not going to do a film review here or discuss pertinent plot points, but I would like to discuss my mixed-reactions to one scene in particular.
That beautiful, hungry–no, starved–kiss, between the two attractive and young male leads. After a lengthy absence, after Ennis and Jack have already consummated their attraction, after Ennis has married and fathered two children, the two lovers meet again.
Furtively. Violently. Nothing held back. All their longing for one another, all their despair, all their testosterone-driven male sexuality, all their romantic attachment, is encapsulated in that full body kiss.
And looking on, seeing all, is Ennis’ downtrodden wife, Alma.
Ennis is so excited to see Jack again, that he ignores his poverty-stricken, tired and stressed-out wife, the mother of his two young and cranky children.
I couldn’t stop thinking that the rugged and yes, suffering, cowboy was leaving his family behind to make carefree and romantic whoopee in the mountains, while his victimized wife stayed home and managed the screaming kids. Had this been an illicit and adulterous hetero affair, I would have been outraged. Instead, I felt the pain of all the characters involved.
Ang Lee did a fair and equitable job of showing the destruction that a secret like this reaps on all involved, so much so, that the two-sided dynamics ruined the romance of that kiss for me.
I just wanted the kiss, the romance, and what I got instead was a healthy dose of reality.