Saturday, May 1, 2010

A Single Man

A Single Man is an elegant and enticing film by fashion designer and first time director Tom Ford. The cinematography is simply stunning - exquisite images and sequences of movement, beautiful contrasts of monochromatic and vibrant colors, coupled with excellent acting and enchanting music make this movie a pleasure to watch.

Colin Firth's performance is extremely powerful and convincing.  He is an English professor named George who after losing his partner of 16 years in an accident and having tried to go on with his life, chooses this day to be his last.  What we see is this particular day, beginning with George getting dressed in the morning, putting on his impeccable suit and dark-rimmed glasses, and escalating to his meticulous preparations for his suicide. 

His pain is palpable without ever being overly dramatic.  Colin Firth's seriousness and intensity are incredible.  Ford manages to capture just the right amount of melodrama and bleakness and we not only understand but feel George's tremendous grief, without being overwhelmed by it.  There are other things going on in the world around and we watch, wondering if George will or will not commit suicide.

George is a man who was deeply in love but who at the same time is in love with life.  His sorrow and hollowness juxtaposed with the beauty that he sees in front of him are truly alluring and magnificent.  They give the movie a haunting quality, a certain glow which draws the viewer in like a magnet.

Julianne Moore interprets George's dear friend and portrays her character superbly, capturing the 1960's mood to perfection with her charcoal lined eyes, smoky gaze, pouty lips and cigarette always near.  She spends most of her day applying make-up, smoking and drinking, but is the friend George turns to when he feels at his worst.  She seems to have a way of picking him up with friendship, memories of a past fling and a bit of gin.  Her perfect English accent made me forget whether she was American or British.

There are also some sexually charged and ambiguous scenes with a student, played notably by Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy).  It is unclear until the very end what the young man's intentions are, as he is quite clearly stalking his professor, but his presence in the story is important.  Like an angel, he guides George through memories of his former lover and shows him hope for the future. 

This film is artistic, stylish, and classy - not surprisingly.  However, it relies very much on the visual and perhaps the novel by Christopher Isherwood was able to convey more depth to the story.  It is definitely worth seeing for its cinematic qualities and will hopefully leave you wondering, as I am now, what Tom Ford's next project will be. I, for one, hope that a movie is in the making; Fabio believes Mr. Ford should return to making sunglasses.  

My rating: 7.5
Fabio's: 6
Total score: 13.5

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