Everyone else seems to be writing about Brokeback Mountain, so I might as well join in on all the fuss since movies are, you know, my business.
Is the hype for this movie justified? Yes. As I mentioned before when I saw the film at Telluride, this is really a beautiful film which does the utterly beautiful short story by Annie Proulx incredible justice. The movie aches with subtle majesty between the grandeur of the scenery and the quiet moments where Gyllenhall and especially Ledger do their best work. The movie justifiably should do well come Oscar-time; while I hope it does well at the box-office, I will be happy if the movie does even modestly well. It's really a quieter film than what the media is hyping it up to be.
Is it sexy? Yes -- but not in the way that you might think. There is only a moment of all-out SEX and you don't really see all that much... but the implication is more than you need, believe me. The urgent violence of the story is, I think, depicted well.
Is it a gay western? This actually gets my goat and is why I'm posting this at all. It is a movie that features cowboys, but it is not by any stretch of the imagination, a western. Cowboys alone do not make a western. (Watch High Noon, a tense thriller with all sorts of cowboys in the Wild West, but not a western.) No, this is a melodrama in a big way, which means Kleenex should be provided when you purchase a ticket. If you place the movie in technicolor suburbia, the movie would fit in a lovely manner back in the Sirkian 50s, in some ways better than Haynes' Far from Heaven.
As for its status as a "gay film"? Well, some films deserve to be ghettoized into that section of the video store and, generally, I find this to be a particularly ineffective marketing tool. There is something around the notion that "gay folks will watch anything as long as it has a gay character in it. Then there are films that happen to have a gay-themed storyline but are good movies without necessarily taking that into consideration. (I'm thinking of movies like The Deep End or Bound here.) So enough of this calling it a "gay film." It's a good film, period.
And does it deserve your dollar? Yes. Don't go expecting the greatest thing since sliced bread, because it's not. But it's a darn good story, told well. Good moviemaking is not usually hyped this much -- this time, I would suggest rewarding it.