Visually, it was gorgeous. Beautiful mountains and scenery, beautiful people. Pretty horses (I especially liked young Jack's filly.)
As for the rest - it was heartbreaking and powerful.
Part of the tragedy was, of course, the time and place. The two men are in love, living on "fishing trips" they take two or three times a year, with Ennis quitting jobs to take them. They also have wives. And Ennis does love Alma. There's no doubt in that. He was engaged before he ever went up that mountain, and Ennis - he takes commitments seriously. Sort of. Because he may have loved Alma, but he was *in love* with Jack, and even though he believed that he'd never see the man again, that didn't go away. Even so, and despite real temptation, he didn't leave Alma. She left him. She clearly never stopped loving him, but she knew from the moment Jack came back into his life that Ennis wasn't hers. And even though he'd drop anything for him, even though he'd quit jobs to be with him, she stayed.
Because in that time and place, it's what you did. Until she couldn't anymore and then she left and found herself someone very different. And Ennis, who was clearly no deadbeat, kept up the child support payments no matter what else *that* cost him.
Jack was never in love with Lureen, and he was all too ready to leave her when he was back with Ennis. And she knew, too. There were hints - her father impugning his masculinity, her reference to Ennis as a "humping partner". She knew - she knew when he went to Mexico, and she knew when he took up with that ranch foreman, and that last was too much. Meeting Ennis on the mountain or the boys in Mexico - that was all right because it wasn't near her, it wasn't rubbed in her face. Men strayed - she knew that, just as Alma knew that - and that was other men was something maybe she could use as weapon some day, but it couldn't hurt *her*.
I'm not saying she had him killed, or her daddy had him killed, but I am saying it made her less than mournful when he died. And I do think either are possible. Although, we have to realize that that scene of Jack being beaten to death was all in Ennis' head. She did sound very rehearsed when she told him how Jack died, but, you know? You do sound that way after a week or so.
Jack loved him - he was ready to leave his rather comfortable life in a moment. But Jack and Ennis are very different men. Jack didn't grow up with that image of the man killed for being gay. Jack may have discovered his sexuality on that mountain, but he didn't focus it all on his wife and Ennis - he liked men, maybe more than women, and he picked them up or bought them. And when he realized his dream of the little ranch was never going to happen with Ennis and he had that fight - he found someone else. But he never stopped loving Ennis.
Ennis' sexuality is...um. Harder. Less of a sex drive maybe, or more focused. He loved Ennis, he loved Alma (although he was willing to stop having sex with her.) Instead of liking women but preferring men, I think he was more liking Alma but preferring Jack. Except he'd made a vow. There's no evidence he'd been with anyone else but those two and the waitress.
Funny how wives were allowed, and girlfriends were allowed, but Jack with another man - that was not allowed. Then it was cheatinig.
And it's all about time and place. Ten years later, they might have an easier time. Twenty years later, one or both may have died of AIDS. Today - who knows? Except that they're part of the whole Western culture and Ennis loved Alma, so this story could have been mostly the same.
And that's enough meta. The performances were amazing and wonderful - all four of the leads were wonderful. The seventies/eighties styles were awful, and I owned a pink version of Alma, jr's shirt in that final scene with her father, and Anne Hathaway, who is truly beautiful, now knows she should never be blonde. And my brother had the same dresser as Jack did in his boyhood room.
And I did cry a bit at the shirts.