I will admit to having waited an AWFULLY long time to see this film, but it was worth it.
I wanted to watch because I LOVE Damian Lewis. The release date got pushed back and back and back, then it only came out briefly in, it seemed, a limited number of theatres. But I watched it last night and I thought it was brilliantly written and for the most part, acted.
The weak link for me? Jennifer Lopez. This was probably a really good performance for her. The problem is I just don't like her acting. When I look at her I only see Jennifer Lopez if that makes sense. Josh Lucas is also very hot but his role almost seemed like an add-in. I haven't read the book so I don't know if his character was in the original or not. Since the Spragg's wrote the book AND the screenplay to my knowledge, I would think he WAS in it. But that perhaps his character was scaled down for the movie. Camryn Manheim played a tough, yet softhearted restaurant owner, very likeable.
By far the strongest part of the movie was the writing. The word here is LAYERS. There were so many layers operating in this film, handled with a skilled hand by director Lasse Halstrom. Each character was so well rounded, so in depth without beating us over the head with details. I could learn a thing or two about revealing characters through their actions. The symbolism of the bear, the monument to Griffin, were both handled so beautifully. The relationship between Mitch and Einer was long and deep after years of friendship and knowing each other as well as they knew themselves, or better even. Morgan Freeman and Robert Redford were superb. And, forgive me for forgetting the girl's name who played Griff, but she was amazing. Watching her relationship with her grandfather grow, watching him change because of her, was stunning.
And Damian Lewis was great as the villian. He played Jean's (JLO) abusive boyfriend. He is so good at creeping you out, smiling sincerely at one moment and then turning on you with the lightning fast snap of a rattlesnake. I even saw the Soames Forsyte sneer once when Jean said something particularly nasty. He was a great casting choice, but boy I'd love to see him as a hero again rather than a villain. From what I've heard Keane is Brilliant but again he doesn't play a straight up - and - up hero.
Damian needs another Dick Winters role. And that's all I'm going to say about that.
Finally, I have to say that despite the depth and emotionalism of Brokeback, I think I'd take this film over that. If for nothing more than the brilliant performance of Redford and the LOL moments that happened despite the sober content and themes.