The “gay cowboy movie” has certainly ruffled some tail feathers (no pun intended) amongst the PC crowd. However, putting the risque subject matter aside this movie is pure melodrama. High stakes emotion, tragic character elements, fatal attractions, somber moods it has all the makings of a Thursday afternoon soap.
The feelings the two main male leads have for each other is confusing both to the audience and to the character’s themselves. Other than a sense of loss for their changing cowboy lifestyles — as it goes out of fashion and work dries up — they seem to have very little in common. Still there is a driving attraction that seems to doom them in their relationships and livelyhoods. It is this drive that signals the intensity of emotions and places this film firmly into the melodramatic category.
Its epic elements aside it also owes a debt to the popularized western genre especially the John Ford-esque landscape shots of the American west. This film does not easily fit into a typical narrative structure and relies more on the willingness of the audience to care about the characters — something not difficult to do given the performances. Ultimately it is superbly written script and a tour de force of characters and cinematography. Ang Lee’s tenderness and directness make this film worth seeing.