Re-watching “Brokeback Mountain” Character Analysis: Jack Twist

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.Jack Twist

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 TwistJack 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!

Author: Farid-ul-Haq

Farid has a Double Masters in Psychology and Biotechnology as well as an M.Phil in Molecular Genetics. He is the author of numerous books including Missing in Somerville, and The Game Master of Somerville. He gives us insight into comics, books, TV shows, anime/manga, video games, and movies.

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2 thoughts on “Re-watching “Brokeback Mountain” Character Analysis: Jack Twist

  1. Thank you for your analyses, I really enjoyed reading them and they prove to be much closer to reality than all the sappy stuff I often read on the web about Jack and Ennis. I don’t know how people can blatantly say after seeing the movie/reading the novel that they were only separated by death, because they weren’t; life and themselves are truly what separated them.

    Your analysis of Jack Twist is very close to mine. I know some people whose character is very similar: spontaneous, open, smart, not the kind of people who would kowtow in front of something that entraves them. They are therefore dreamers, who want to reach an absolute no matter what and who they have to face in life. This tenacity also makes them often selfish persons indeed. I believe Jack was one of those people. On Brokeback Mountain was born his dream, his absolute (Ennis) he would still fight to reach over the years, even if that meant hurting other people along the way- his wife and son he was ready to leave for the man he openly loved.

    However, Ennis’ character, completely different, only lead Jack to a more bitter disappointment every time he encoutered him. More life issues, more refusals, and Jack Twist started to move on, eventually, from this situation that did nothing but hurt him. First Mexico, then Randall Malone, you know the story. But, as much as he tried to move on, he never really could- their last scene together is a perfect render of this situation.

    At night, Jack lies and tells Ennis he has an affair with the ranchman’s wife, who is obviously the ranchman- lies and then pronounces his line “Truth is… sometimes I miss you so much I can hardly stand it”. This isn’t more a confession to Ennis than to himself- no matter how many affairs he has, the truth still comes out when he sees the only man he loves. He lies to Ennis because he knows how much the truth would hurt him, and wouldn’t risk hurting him over something so unsignificant, that doesn’t matter now that he is at last closer to his dream once again. Then, disappointment strikes again- not until November. Jack storms out but can’t keep Ennis from getting away. The look on Gyllenhaal’s face expressed bitterness, hurtful anger, but I also saw powerful resignation. This time, when he came to his parents, he had crossed the line, said farewell to Ennis, his dream, and “officialised” his relationship with the ranchman.

    I do believe that Jack’s death (apart from the fact it is indeed a hate crime because of Jack’s openness) is a reminder that without his dream, he didn’t last much longer. The call to Lureen reveals that Jack drank a lot, mentioned his death wishes, and a deleted scene shows two mechanics glaring at Jack and Randall openly hugging (or parting ways after a meeting, I can’t recall right). Jack’s father says he didn’t bring up the other man to the ranch after all. Jack’s determination and will to move on didn’t work out. He couldn’t have what he wanted, so I like to think he got somehow careless. This IS selfish indeed if you think about it; he didn’t think about what Ennis, his parents, his wife, son, even Randall, would feel.

    It becomes a tragedy when Ennis learns he has not lost Jack once, but rather twice, and because of himself rather than fatally. I think that’s why it is such a resonating story; because Proulx and Lee brought such realistic and flawed leads.

    Sorry about the block of text; I really wanted to share my interpretation in response to yours which I greatly enjoyed. Thank you for writing this about Brokeback Mountain!

    1. I appreciate you sharing your take on the characters, and i agree with what you said…the reason the short story and the movie really works, as you said, is because both the leads are flawed and thus, more human compared to what we get to see on our screens etc

      I wrote in my Enis analysis that he had quite a hesitant nature compared to the openness that Jack had…in a sense the two characters were perfect for each other but the time they were in and their ‘life’ just couldn’t allow them to make it all work

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