Re-watching “Brokeback Mountain” Character Analysis: Jack Twist
Brokeback Mountain is one of the best LGBT movies ever released. I remember immediately liking Jack Twist when I saw him for the first time, played amazingly by Jake Gyllenhaal. Compared to Ennis Del Mar he was more open about his attraction to men. I used to curse Ennis for not listening to Jack and agreeing to live with him. However, after re-watching the film I couldn’t help but notice that Jack Twist was quite a selfish character.
Jack met Ennis when both young men were 19-years old and were out looking for a job. I liked how their personalities countered each other. Jack was the spontaneous one while Ennis was socially shy. Even their names had a different feeling from each other. The name ‘Jack Twist’ had a slight quickness to it compared to the brooding nature of ‘Ennis Del Mar’. They were a perfect match!
In the short story it was implied that Ennis wasn’t the first man Jack had been with. I remember being a bit surprised watching the scenes where I though Jack was clearly flirting with the oblivious Ennis. He was also the one who initiated their sexual encounter in the tent and assured Ennis that what they did was no one’s business.
The way Jack acted in the movie has led to some critics calling him a sexual predator. I don’t agree with such a statement. Jack is no more a “sexual predator” than Jack Dawson from Titanic when he pursued Rose. There is no proof that Jack forced Ennis into a sexual relationship that spanned decades. However, I do believe that Jack Twist was quite a selfish male character.
Even though he was in love with Ennis, Jack married Lureen Newsome (played by Anne Hathaway). Now one can say that Jack married a woman because that’s what society expected of him. But it was shown in the movie as well as the short-story that Lureen’s father owned one of the biggest farm-vehicle selling businesses and it was cash that led to Jack marrying Lureen. He even told Ennis that his wife was loaded and he would get the money when she took over the business.
The love between them also dwindled through the years, if there was any actual love between the married couple to begin with. They drifted apart so much that, according to Jack, they could have continued their relationship over the phone. Even when he was married he tried to make Ennis agree to live together with him. Jack didn’t care about leaving Lureen or his son and actually told Ennis they wouldn’t have to worry about money because his father-in-law would give him cash to leave his daughter alone.
Some critics have said that Jack was bisexual, but I think that he was clearly gay. He didn’t feel any love for his wife and was ready to leave her the moment Ennis agreed to live with him.
I didn’t notice these things when I first watched the movie because I was in awe of the perfect love story playing out on my screen. Every other character, other than Ennis and Jack, were the villains as far as I was concerned.
I also think Ennis loved Jack more than Jack loved Ennis. Even though Jack proclaimed his love for Ennis, that didn’t stop him from going to Mexico and taking care of his sexual needs with male prostitutes. It also didn’t stop him from hitting on a rodeo clown who turned out to be straight. Not only that, Jack even started to replace Ennis when he started a relationship with a man from a neighboring ranch. When Jack was with Ennis he used to tell his parents how they both will come up to their ranch and fix it up. However, during their last meeting in 1983, I think Jack broke up with Ennis. I also think Ennis was oblivious to their relationship ending.
Their last meeting is one of the best scenes between the two, that’s when Jack told Ennis about going to male prostitutes in Mexico and how he used to dream about them living together. It’s also one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the entire film. It showed the moment when Jack remembered how good things were back when they were young on Brokeback Mountain and how Ennis used to hold him in front of the fireplace. He realized that it could never be that good again between them because of the society they lived in.
The scene where Jack saw Ennis drive away was the moment he moved on from Ennis. He didn’t stop loving Ennis, but he had definitely moved on. Ennis realized this when he went to meet Jack’s parents after his death and his father mentioned Jack talking about another man he would bring up to the ranch.
That was also when Ennis realized the true cause of Jack’s death. I know the film left Jack’s death open for interpretation but reading the short-story it’s obvious that his death was an act of hate-crime.
Yes, Jack Twist was a selfish person, but whatever selfishness he showed was because of his desire to live the life he wanted. He wanted to live together with Ennis, the man he loved. He wanted to freely act out his sexual desires and not be afraid of society.
Jack Twist was not a perfect character, just like Ennis Del Mar. I think the author deliberately created two characters that had major flaws, flaws that gave rise to consequences they both had to face. Jack’s openness regarding his sexuality turned out to be the cause of his death; while Ennis’s hesitant nature led him to lose the only man he had ever loved.
After understanding the characters Annie Proux created I was able to appreciate their sad love story more and realize that the reason Brokeback Mountain is such a resonating story is because the two romantic leads were far from perfect.
What do you think of Jack Twist? Do you think he was selfish? Let us know!
Farid has a Masters in Psychology and an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Arousing the Legacy, Missing in Somerville, The Game Master of Somerville, and The Escaped Murderer of Somerville. He gives us insight on comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.
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