From my original review of "Brokeback Mountain":
To say "Brokeback Mountain" is a “gay cowboy movie” is akin to calling “Romeo and Juliet” a play about two feuding Italian families. In either case you wouldn’t be wrong, but to reduce the two stories to such superficial plot summaries misses the essence of both – the universal theme of societal constructions (be they ideas about class, race or sexuality) serving to keep true love apart. Ang Lee’s disguised “Romeo and Juliet,” set in the west and involving two men, is merely the latest take on a timeless subject. It is a classic western that feels so right in its elimination of the extraneous girl at the center of the requisite triangle, the undeveloped female character put there for no other reason than to keep the other two points from collapsing into (the arms of) each other. Blessed with a tight script and phenomenal acting, Ang Lee rightly steps aside, letting the film perform its own alchemy, leaving no smudges of auteur fingerprints to distract like a dirty lens. Heath Ledger lives up to his hype, imbuing his complex role with a gravity that’s worthy of the young Brando.
A role like Ennis Del Mar is an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for any actor. What Heath Ledger did with that role, the jaw-dropping astonishing performance he gave, is at a height the vast majority of actors could never reach in ten lifetimes. It's all any fan of that mysterious, shamanistic art could ever ask for. We are truly blessed.