This is a beautiful and beautifully executed romantic weeper in the tradition of such American films as Splendor in the Grass
and All That Heaven Allows
. While the plot is fairly standard (shepherd meets shepherd; shepherd loses shepherd; both shepherds marry women, settle down, have kids and get together twice a year for shepherd love in the high mountains of Wyoming), director Ang Lee nevertheless gives it a fresh sheen. The photography is sumptuous and slow, and neatly reflects the longing of the protagonists. Heath Ledger shines as the incredibly laconic Ennis Del Mar, a repressed ranch hand who falls in love with the witty and wily Jack Twist (Jake Gyllenhaal). Also excellent are Michelle Williams and Anne Hathaway as Ennis and Jacks wives, but the movie belongs mostly to Ledger and the cinematography of Rodrigo Prieto. Together, they create a mood of stomach-twisting yearning and romantic tension that propels this quiet film forward at a pace that is at once slow and rich. Not to be missed by any fans of the romantic tear-jerker.