Reviews of A Single Man
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A Single Man (2009) Tom Ford directed and co-adapted this film from a novel of the same title by Christopher Isherwood which I doubt would be as cloying as Ford’s film, but given Ford’s accomplished life as a fashion designer one can appreciate the studied color palette and sheen of the supporting characters while squirming as the pathos reaches flood tide. A nice touch was George’s (Colin Frith) Webley revolver which would have been the side arm of Isherwood’s father, a British officer killed in WW1. The rest is So Cal glitter.
George (back to camera) and anonymous rent boy connect….briefly. Two beautiful hunks and a blonde bombshell (Julianne Moore) and George nuzzles a smooth haired terrier.
Se depender de seu longa de estréia, Tom Ford tem tudo para ter uma carreira promissora no cinema. Aos 48 anos, o famoso estilista americano se arriscou na direção de seu primeiro longa, e começou com o pé direito.
“A Single Man” (me recuso a usar o título em português “Direito de Amar”) é uma adaptação de um livro de mesmo nome, escrito por Christopher Isherwood. Conta a história de George (Colin Firth), um professor inglês de meia idade que, após perder seu companheiro em um acidente de carro, tenta retomar sua rotina normal no dia seguinte. Talvez o filme não te convença pela premissa. Mas acredite, ele é muito mais do que parece.
A começar pela Fotografia e Direção de Arte extremamente bem cuidadas. Eduard Grau e Ian Phillips (fotógrafo e diretor de arte respectivamente) uniram forças para dar unidade ao tom das cenas, transformando os quadros em verdadeiras pinturas. O visual é claramente dividido em dois. Nas cenas em que George está sozinho (ou solitário), os tons frios dominam a tela, trazendo um tom introspectivo e melancólico. Já nas cenas em que George está acompanhado (e principalmente nas cenas com mais emoção) as cores ganham uma saturação quase exagerada, com tons sempre puxados para o vermelho (repare nos lábios dos jovens que George encontra ao longo do filme). Todo esse cuidado visual, talvez por influência da carreira de estilista do diretor, me remeteu diretamente aos clássicos do cinema italiano de diretores como Visconti e Antonionni, e também às famosas cores de Almodóvar. Outra cena belíssima que merece destaque, é a seqüência em slow motion de George dirigindo seu carro pela vizinhança e interagindo com cada personagem. Me lembrou até o slow motion que Lars Von Trier usou e abusou em seu maravilhoso Anticristo.
E se a parte visual é impecável, espere só até ver a entrega de Colin Firth e Julianne Moore nos papéis principais. Colin, até então quase desconhecido por mim, teria facilmente ganhado o Oscar se Jeff Bridges não tivesse destruído tudo com seu coração louco. Aqui acompanhamos um George introspectivo, cheio de desejos, angústias e muito receio (ou seria medo) de dar o próximo passo. Colin Firth se entrega de corpo e alma, e faz de George um quase Guido (Marcello Mastroianni em 8 e ½), tendo de revisitar seu passado em busca de respostas para o futuro. Aliás, até o visual da personagem lembra bastante. E se os atores merecem todo esse destaque, o roteiro é um grande aliado. “A Single Man” é cheio de grandes momentos de diálogos e citações que te deixam com raiva por não poder pausar e rebobinar quando bem entender. Em certo momento, citando o escritor Aldous Huxley a personagem diz: “Experiência não é o que acontece com um homem. É o que um homem faz com o que lhe acontece”.
A música de Abel Korzeniowiski pontua os grandes momentos da trama e emociona pra valer. Foi uma das primeiras coisas que ficou em minha mente ao subir dos créditos finais. Além da impecável trilha sonora, a edição/mixagem de som da o tom de uma das cenas mais fortes do filme quando, logo após receber a triste notícia, George sai correndo no meio da chuva para o braços de Charley (Julianne Moore). O som da chuva forte abafa qualquer resquício de diálogo que se possa ouvir, deixando a cena ainda mais impactante.
Bom, acho que deu para perceber que eu realmente gostei muito do filme, né? Ainda estamos em março, e tem muito filme pela frente em 2010. Mas este longa tem tudo para aparecer na minha famosa lista dos melhores do ano. Em dezembro a gente descobre. Não deixem de assistir!
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
La bande-annonce laissait déjà présager du meilleur. Le film met la barre encore plus haut. Pour sa première réalisation, Tom Ford réalise un long-métrage sublime en tous points de vue. La photographie est exceptionnelle, les plans sont d’une beauté renversante avec des nuances de couleur subtiles et un esthétisme éclatant. Si certains cinéastes confirmés essaient constamment de montrer leur savoir-faire, Tom Ford ne se force pas, il transpire le talent, la classe et la finesse. Son écriture est éblouissante d’intelligence et de sagacité. Son film a la beauté d’un Wong Kar Waï, la force dramatique et l’esthétisme élégant d’un Pedro Almodovar. Il filme ses acteurs comme s’ils étaient James Dean, Elizabeth Taylor ou Brigitte Bardot. Colin Firth, pas toujours à son aise dans certaines comédies romantiques faciles, est bouleversant, superbe, parfait de sobriété et de retenue. Si l’Academy des Oscars faisait des choix pertinents – ce qui est rarement le cas, elle avait déjà oublié Mickey Rourke l’an dernier – récompenser l’acteur britannique aurait été rien d’autre que logique tellement il incarne magnifiquement ce professeur d’université accablé et brisé depuis la disparition tragique de son compagnon. Heureusement, la Mostra de Venise aura une fois de plus réparé l’injustice en lui offrant le prix d’interprétation masculine ô combien mérité. Julianne Moore et Nicholas Hoult ne sont pas en reste. La première incarne sa meilleure amie, une femme superbe et pourtant insatisfaite qui s’abîme dans l’alcool, la résignation et l’apitoiement. Le second, inoubliable Tony Stonem dans la série britannique Skins, incarne cet étudiant curieux, culotté et solitaire, qui semble être le seul à percevoir cet insondable désespoir qui envahit l’âme de George. Et enfin, que dire de la partition d’Abel Korzeniowski, si raffinée et poignante, qui compose la plus belle bande originale que j’ai pu entendre ces dernières années. Bref, du travail d’orfèvre à tous les niveaux d’une maîtrise ébouriffante. A single man est au final mon plus gros coup de cœur cinématographique des trois dernières années.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Tom Ford a fait un film comme un couturier fait une robe, avec application… Mais hélas sans grande vie. Sans grande vie, parce que son personnage principal (pourtant très bien joué par …) s’avère assez inexpressif. Sans grande vie parce que l’amour qu’il a pu ressentir pour son compagnon perdu ne nous est jamais montré, ce qui le rend assez vide, assez creux. Sans vie, parce que les effets répétitifs vident le film de sa substance. Sans vie, parce qu’avec sa photo si léchée, il n’y a aucune place pour autre chose que la perfection. Et la perfection formelle, hélas, ne fait pas un grand film. Dommage.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
Title: A Single Man
Director: Tom Ford
Writers: Tom Ford, David Scearce
I have been looking forward to watching this film for almost one year (since last year’s Venice Festival), soon afterwards I became a little bit apprehensive, too many lessons learned from precedent experience have proved that the higher my expectation is, the higher possibility of disappointment would occur. Luckily now I can get some relief since I am standing firmly on the love side of this polarized film.
The story took place in a single day in 60’s, a gay professor decided to commit suicide as his long-time partner died in a car accident, the content is rather thin even given the fact that the whole film only lasts 99 minutes, the whole keynote is gloomy, but it manages to blow my mind with a sharpened perspective of life and death, how to choose a path to consume our remaining days, the sentimental pathos is strong and powerful here, thankfully by a marvelous performance from Colin Firth, which is affecting and shows genuine nuance to perfect his role (for example the scenes where he gets to know the bad news by phone, a tour-de-force interpretation one could ever imagine). Colin’s new film THE KING’S SPEECH seems to on its way to be the biggest award harvest in the coming Oscar, I am eager to see if this time Mr. Darcy could finally get his due Oscar (actually I should shut myself up as I haven’t seen CRAZY HEART yet).
As for my goddess Moore, she ushers a difficult supporting role within her limited screen time, which potentially manifests her character’s both repulsive and sympathetic two-sides. By the way, it is a truly supporting role (I heard Maggie Gyllenhaal should be lead in CRAZY HEART, shut up again), but this year, please push Moore in lead (THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT), it will be ridiculous if she goes supporting, there have been too many ludicrous examples in Oscar before (to name a few, Jamie Foxx in COLLATERAL, Catherine Zeta-Jones in CHICAGO, Jake Gyllenhaal in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN).
Words get around, I am not a fashion pursuer, so I had no idea of Tom Ford’s background before he made his debut film (I feel so ashamed of myself, that’s why I bought a copy of MILK today, make a frantic last-minute effort to be trendy and chic). But the stunning shots (over-saturated color) and overflowing slow-motions do imitate a tone of Wang Kai-Wei. As a matter of fact, the gay theme only serves as a set piece to attract more attention, if the story changes into A SINGLE WOMAN, I think it is also feasible but less tasty. However as his feature debut, Tom Ford has done an excellent job to make a short novel into a charming while touching film prose, though it can not cater for all audience’s criterion, but who would expect a gay-themed film could do so!
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Fashion maven Tom Ford makes a striking directorial debut with this beautifully photographed adaptation of a 1964 novel by pioneering gay author Christopher Isherwood, about one crucial day in the life of an English professor as he tries to move on after the death of his long time partner. With precision, dreamy visuals, Ford presents the grieving man (played by an excellent, dominant Colin Firth) in a series of stream-of-consciousness encounters with his own mind and memory, as well as through various conversations on the day he decides to end his life, wondering if there is hope in a life where he finds no future, but resplendent joy in brief human connections. A fine period piece, tasteful and metaphysical, reminiscent of everything from “Far From Heaven” and “Mad Men”, to Fassbinder and Hitchcock, but completely of itself; this is a brilliant debut from a man who comes to cinema with his art fully formed.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Tom Ford’s elegiac tale of George Falconer, an aging professor struggling with his lover Jim’s death and life’s meaning as he contemplates suicide and reassesses his relationships with other people and the world, is also a literary and dramatic marvel. However, its real power is not in the internal monolog and character-driven dialog of the movie, but in the cinematography and how life and memory struggle in and out of focus for a depressed man too involved in his grief to notice the real palpitations of death stirring inside of him. George Falconer is lucky enough to be working over and coming to terms with his own mortality on the day his body chooses to fail him, but the audience gets the real message in the rhythmic modulations of awareness, memory, and light.
A Single Man’s slick (and floating) camera work is a serious and personalized reappropriation of techniques like Schindler’s List and Pleasantville, but Ford wears his inspirations on his sleeve with a score right out of Vertigo and a direct (and obvious) allusion to Psycho. Nevertheless, the references are more literary than imitative, it’s just a little difficult to break away Ford’s style from his character building, which is why the movie ultimately is more engaging in its poetics than its drama. The characters’ relationships have, in a sense, hit their high points before the movie has started, except in the case of the young student who finds himself attracted by George’s final rant against fear in society. This technique somewhat reflects the audience’s own position outside of the historical drama of the time, where the Cold War that George’s life is set in has already hit its resolution, even though more exploration into the nature of the conflict is necessary. Thus, it’s a somewhat ironic movie when the young student reflects, “You always seem to be about the past, whereas I have no patience for it.”
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
A Single Man is by far the best movie I saw come out of 2009, and possibly one of the greatest pieces of art I’ve ever encountered. The cinematography was really top notch, with dull browns and green with flashes of pale shades of white. Everything looked and sounded extremely authentic to the 1960s era, the cars, the clothes, the homes- everything. I fell in love immediately with the slow motion shots and romantic flash backs- I found it to be heavily influenced by Wong Kar-Wai (because of the dramatic score, as well). I had the chills for about 90% of the Film, but I wouldn’t expect anything else when I’ve been put in the head of a Man with the greatest loss; love. Colin Firth does and impeccable job in his performance and book end narrations, and really the entire cast was great. I was especially impressed with Julianne Moore. She’s one of my favorite Actresses and I was really happy to see her improvement with her accent and overall growth as a professional. I couldn’t find a single thing I didn’t like about the movie. Everything was perfectly paced, thoroughly planned and incredibly well written. I loved every minute of dialogue, every frame right down to the very perfect ending.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Setelah 16 tahun saling berhubungan, George Falconer (Colin Firth), seorang dosen Sastra Inggris, harus mendengar fakta pahit bahwa kekasihnya, Jim (Matthew Goode), meninggal dunia secara tragis dalam sebuah kecelakaan mobil. Kemuraman dan rasa hampa pun akhirnya mewarnai hari-hari George setelah ditinggal Jim. Kehampaan yang menyelimuti dirinya selama delapan bulan terakhir itulah yang akhirnya membimbing George untuk memutuskan bahwa bunuh diri mungkin adalah jalan terbaik bagi dirinya.
Premis diatas merupakan premis yang ingin diceritakan oleh sutradara Tom Ford dalam film yang diadaptasi dari novel karya Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man. Film ini sendiri merupakan sebuah debut penyutradaraan bagi Tom Ford — yang juga menjadi produser dan mengadaptasi naskah film ini — yang sebelumnya lebih banyak dikenal oleh publik umum sebagai seorang perancang busana ternama. Dan sebagai orang yang paling mengerti mengenai tekstur keindahan sebuah karya seni, Ford secara lugas berhasil meletakkan berbagai sentuhan warna yang indah melalui gambar-gambar yang ia berikan di film ini.
Kemuraman dan rasa hampa yang dimiliki oleh karakter George Falconer sendiri bukan hanya datang karena kematian kekasihnya. A Single Man berlatar belakang waktu cerita pada tahun 1962. Waktu dimana menjadi seorang gay adalah sebuah hal yang sangat tabu untuk dibicarakan di khalayak ramai. Karena tidak dapat menunjukkan rasa dukanya di depan umum, sebagai bagian untuk menunjukkan rasa cintanya pada Jim, itulah yang semakin menanamkan rasa depresi kepada George. Kabar mengenai kematian Jim sendiri dikabarkan kepada George secara diam-diam oleh sepupu Jim, dengan menambahkan bahwa orangtua Jim tidak ingin agar George tahu mengenai hal ini dan tidak ingin George menghadiri acara pemakaman Jim.
Jika ada satu orang yang mengetahui mengenai rahasia orientasi seksual George, dan rasa dukanya atas kehilangan Jim, adalah Charlotte (Julianne Moore), seorang wanita yang dulu pernah menjadi kekasih George dan kini dianggapnya sebagai seorang sahabat baiknya. Digambarkan sebagai seorang yang dimabuk cinta — dan alkohol — Charley — panggilan akrab Charlotte — masih memiliki hasrat yang mendalam terhadap George. Hasrat untuk memiliki dan mengulang kembali jalinan cinta yang pernah mereka miliki sebelumnya. Ini yang membuat Charley sedikit iri pada hubungan George dengan Jim, karena George tidak pernah memiliki rasa sayang yang mendalam kepada dirinya ketika mereka dahulu berhubungan.
Di hari terakhir ia memutuskan untuk hidup, George telah mempersiapkan segalanya. Mulai dari seluruh surat-surat wasiat hingga senjata yang ia siapkan untuk ditembakkan ke kepalanya. Walau begitu, ia tetap menjalani harinya seperti hari-hari biasa yang ia jalani. Kemuraman George sendiri ternyata ditangkap oleh Kenny Potter (Nicholas Hoult), salah seorang mahasiswanya yang semenjak lama, secara diam-diam, sangat mengagumi George. Kenny secara perlahan mulai mendekati George, dan tanpa disadari mulai menggeser kemuraman yang ada di hati George.
Kalau mau diperhatikan secara sungguh-sungguh, A Single Man lebih membuktikan kemampuan seorang Tom Ford dalam melukis dan memilih berbagai gambar-gambar indah daripada kemampuannya untuk mengarahkan setiap aktor maupun aktris yang terlibat di film ini. Jangan salah, bukan berarti para pemeran film ini bermain dengan buruk. Naskah yang diadaptasi oleh Tom Ford dan David Scearce ini bukanlah sebuah naskah yang sulit untuk dimainkan oleh aktor dan aktris sekelas Colin Firth dan Julianne Moore. Ford beruntung memiliki mereka. Karena merekalah — dan dukungan dari nama-nama seperti Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode dan Ginnifer Goodwin — film yang sebenarnya hanya memiliki satu jalur emosi ini, menjadi sangat hidup dan mampu menyentuh setiap penontonnya.
Walau begitu, apa yang telah dilakukan oleh Ford pada film pertamanya ini tentu saja sebuah hal yang tidak dapat dianggap biasa. Naskah yang ia adaptasi memang terkesan biasa dan sedikit depresif, namun Ford dan Scearce mampu mengalirkan cerita tersebut — sekaligus meletakkan adegan kilas balik mengenai hubungan George dan Jim — dengan sangat lancar. Colin Firth sebagai perhatian utama film ini mampu secara luar biasa memerankan karakter yang penuh rasa muram ini namun tetap dapat hidup dan tidak terjebak dalam sebuah penampilan yang datar. Pemilihan ending yang cukup mengejutkan juga layak diberikan perhatian tersendiri. Walaupun melanjutkan nada kemuraman yang telah dibangun semenjak awal film, namun dengan harapan yang telah diberikan pada penonton mengenai perubahan sikap George, ending cerita yang dipilihkan Ford akan membuat semua orang sedikit ‘sakit hati’.
A Single Man menginterpretasikan kemuraman seorang George Falconer melalui permainan warna yang Ford berikan di sepanjang jalan cerita film ini. Semenjak awal, Ford mewarnai A Single Man dengan warna-warna indah namun kusam dan muram, yang membuat film ini terlihat bagaikan sebuah film lama yang dirilis pada tahun ’60-an. Namun, beberapa kali, Ford mewarnai film ini dengan warna-warna cerah dan terang yang sangat indah untuk menggambarkan bagaimana perubahan hati karakter George. Permainan warna ini yang membuat A Single Man dapat menjalin sebuah hubungan emosional yang baik terhadap para penontonnya. Walaupun mungkin pada awalnya tidak menyadari hal ini, namun secara perlahan, peralihan antara warna kusam dengan warna cerah tersebut — sedikit mengingatkan akan Pleasantville — akan menangkap perhatian penonton yang kemudian berujung pada terkoneksinya perhatian dan emosi mereka pada karakter George.
Selain permainan warna, Ford menambah dramatisasi di setiap adegan yang ada di film ini melalui alunan musik yang diciptakan oleh Abel Korzeniowski. Kebanyakan musik yang diciptakan Korzeniowski berisi jalinan orkestrasi yang megah yang semakin manambah rasa mewah dari film ini. Di lain pihak, oskestrasi tersebut berhasil emakin mengisi rasa muram dan sedih seorang George dengan sangat baik.
A Single Man jelas merupakan sebuah karya debut penyutradaraan yang jauh berada diatas kata standar. Beginner’s luck? Mungkin saja. Namun yang jelas, lewat film ini, Tom Ford membuktikan bahwa ia telah mempersiapkan segala sesuatu untuk membuat sebuah film yang berkualitas dengan sangat baik. Merupakan suatu karya yang sangat memuaskan dari sisi art direction, Ford memilih orang-orang yang tepat untuk menghidupkan suasana kemuraman yang menjadi cerita utama dalam film ini. Colin Firth adalah kunci utama mengapa film ini bukanlah sebuah kegagalan emosional untuk penontonnya. Sebuah debut penyutradaraan yang sangat menjanjikan.
Rating: 4 / 5
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
Wow, A Single Man deserves two thumbs-up and all the stars one can carry. It is a beautiful film, full of the gentility of visual written-word, and the pace of a heart, broken.
The hue of the image changes with emotion, and the soundscape changes with the pace of The Single Man’s wondering mind. Both techniques bring the audience closer and closer into the thoughts and heart ache of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a man who is tying together all ends in his life in preparation for his planned suicide at the end of the day, eight months after he lost his lover of sixteen years in a car accident.
Watching this, I am astounded by the beauty of not only the film form itself, but also of the surrounding landscapes, furnishings, fashion and the general world re-created. The visual world, from architecture to fashion, is all thanks not only to Tom Ford (director) but also the production team, who are the same team that work on Mad Men.
Ford’s directorial debut is brilliant but grounded, beautiful but elegant, heart-shattering but optimistic. I will recommend this to everyone, starting firstly, with you. Go and see this film. Now.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Like an animated edition of Gentleman’s Quarterly magazine, this is a generally shallow exercise in glossy visuals.
Emotionally pinched and rather trapped by its lovingly assembled 1960s interiors, artefacts and pseudo-arty colour pallet, the film beats to a metronome and only has room for emotional development in between each tick. That’s not to say it doesn’t look ravishing, because it does, but always a little too aware of its chic veneer. Maybe this is all to be expected from a director trying a little too hard.
Shades of Calvin Klein and Van Sant abound, with a certain nod towards Tadzio’s ‘Angel of Death’ in Death in Venice – a kind of pinched take on Sirkian melodrama. Performances are uniformly acceptable, notably Firth in a well modulated and understated lead.
Taken as a narrow study of lost love, depression and short-lived renewal, it works, but offers little insight into its clipped emotional range.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
As many others have said, you can tell the director’s experience in the fashion industry has led to this being a very beautiful movie visually. The colors are often muted especially in the shots of Firth in the present, but with certain objects popping out with bright color. The neighbor girl’s blue dress, a rose outside the house of George’s BFF, glistening male bodies playing tennis, and countless lips are punched up with color. The love story and loss of love story doesn’t seem as deep with substance. There are two plot points that seem very heavy-handed in foreshadowing, both having to do with the questions I ask at the end of my review. This is the second movie in the running for Oscars this year about a college professor in the 1960’s. This professor is again in a minority. He is from England teaching in Los Angeles. He has no family nearby and in the eyes of mainstream society is a single man. I enjoyed the performances of Kortajarena as a latino James Dean, Hoult as a not so naive mirror image of George when he was younger, Goode as George’s 16 year partner who dies, Moore as the old friend who feels broken and still holds a flame for George, and Firth as George. From the first moment when I saw Firth’s face looking old and sad he captured my attention and held it. From different camera angles Firth’s face seemed like a chameleon. However, the thing I appreciated the most was the journey of memory that George takes using every sense. As he mourns during the day following his partners death in a car wreck, flashbacks come to him through remembering the sights, sounds, smells, tastes, and touches of his long 16 year relationship. Will he end his life in grief? Can he fall in love again?
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.
A SINGLE MAN
Fashion mogul Tom Ford, in his film directing debut, turns Christopher Isherwood’s sharp little “day in the life” novel into a “last day in the life” film. Isherwood’s George goes about his day, a day like any other, filled with the thousand little indignities and annoyances that flesh is heir to. Annoying children from next door, condescending neighbors, (mostly) uncomprehending students in his literature class, etc. George’s Englishness and his homosexuality give him an outsider’s view on life in Los Angeles, and Isherwood acts as an invisible nameless narrator, supplying some good observation about George and his milieu. Isherwood’s George isn’t having the best day; he seems to be aware that he’s just going through the motions, almost on auto-pilot, and it seems to have something to do with his recently deceased partner of 16 years, Jim.
In short, there isn’t much plot in Isherwood’s novel, and Ford can’t be blamed for making George’s seeming depression over the loss of his partner the focus of his film. Ford’s George (played by Colin Firth, doing the best he can) is more than just bummed, he’s actually preparing to kill himself. He leaves out the clothes he wants to be buried in, he prepares a series of Last Notes to assorted people, buys ammunition for the gun he keeps in his desk, and is shown throughout the day getting ready to check out once and for all.
Okay, well and good, not necessarily a bad notion in and of itself. The problem is Ford’s need to make each scene, each shot, each bloody frame even, into a big display of every known cinematic technique, ranging from simple things like slow motion to the more advanced gimmick of manipulating the color saturation in the image to convey George’s emotional state. One of the most tasteless moments in the film occurs in a bar when George is approached by a young man, cuing the color to go from muted but natural tones (George is Sad) to bright vibrant full color (George is Horny). It comes off less as an instance of an interesting use of color than as an instance of Directorial Authority Run Amuck. Clearly, this film is an expression of STYLE over anything as mundane as mere Life. Ford can’t bear to show any disorder in the world he brings to the screen, every image is faultlessly composed and immaculately lit, hermetically created for maximum glossy photo-spread effect. Even a display of plastic pencil sharpeners in college bookstore is carefully arranged, with the little plastic items arrayed in precise color-specific rows. A scene of George unable to pull the trigger of the gun he has in his mouth, evidently out of concern for the damage he’ll do to his surroundings, at first comes off as just a spectcularly ill-advised bit of black comedy, but unexpectely winds up being emblematic of the entire film. Suicide is one thing, but mess will simply not be tolerated.
There’s more. It isn’t enough for George to strike up an impromptu chat with one of his neighbor’s children, whom he has unexpectedly met at the bank. The little girl has to have a stylish entrance, glimpsed in the reflection of an impossibly over-polished floor, followed by a slow shot travelling up her body from bottom to top, with music clearly inspired by Bernard Herrmann’s score to VERTIGO on the soundtrack, yet. The entire movie is nothing but this kind of flourish, over and over and over, little nudges from Ford so we can applaud how “cinematic” his film is. The nudges start to bruise, before long, and the urge to nudge back can’t be denied. The film feels completely unnatural and mechanical, so composed and created and finally phony that AVATAR comes off as a gay lark tossed off as an afternoon’s merry diversion in comparison. It is difficult to give a damn about anyone in the film when they’re just a bunch of carefully pretty immaculately groomed and dressed (and undressed) puppets. That this is true of even George’s relationship with the late Jim (played by the pretty but useless Matthew Goode, who last annoyed as Ozymandias in WATCHMEN) is a particularly grave failing. The flashbacks we get of George and Jim together (reading in cozy domesticity, or sitting in carefully composed and overly styled B/W Bruce Weber-esque splendor on a picturesque outcropping of rock) are pretty standard romance novel stuff. There’s no accounting for soul mates, I guess, but I think I’d have preferred not seeing Jim at all to the overly posed scenes we get here, which seem to have been cribbed out of an upscale gay magazine all-male resort ad.
It all just thuds and plods along, with a ponderous funereal air that really gets oppressive. The film hasn’t gotten the complaints that BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN got, that it offers too negative a view of Homosexuality As Misery, but I doubt that A SINGLE MAN will get enough popular attention to warrant many complaints. I’m tempted to dismiss the film as TERMS OF ENDEARMENT for the Project Runway crowd. I have to admit that I was glad to see an actor of Colin Firth’s abilities being allowed to carry a film, one at least nominally intended for grown ups. To be fair, Firth’s scene where he gets the Awful Phone Call about Jim’s passing is most impressive, by far the most memorable thing in the film. But even Firth’s performance falls into the black hole of Ford’s style, as closeup after closeup of George displaying Subtle Emotions become as cloying as the film they had, up until then, been the best part of.
- Currently 1.0/5 Stars.
The directorial debut from fashion designer Tom Ford could not possibly feel any more accomplished or assured; rapturously moving, eloquent, beating with the melodious lyricism of a life in limbo between sadness and ever oscillating elation, his film is a gift of almost overwhelming sensuality. It’s apparent in every frame – from admiring close-ups of sparkling eyes and flirtatious lips to the way the camera methodically caresses each radiant pour on each character’s face, each exquisite shot carries with it a sense of delicate temptation that begs you to resist. But still beneath this surface beauty is a truly soul-stirring portrait of grief and mourning, a nakedly honest representation of lost love and hermetic isolation so perfect in its execution it hurts. None of it would work without Colin Firth, who at the top of this production brings an affection and sensitivity that invokes nothing less than a complete map of the human condition. And that condition has never felt so right.
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
A series of flashes, shooting before your eyes—this is what people like to believe happens as you die. A Single Man looks to corroborate this hypothesis, beginning with our discovery of George Falconer’s pain and depression dealing with the death of his long-time lover Jim, continuing to show him put his gun into an attaché as he leaves for work on a day of farewells. Scored to a magnificent orchestral symphony, the film takes us on a journey through the fragmented moments of George coming to grips with his loss as well as his own mortality. We see the close-ups that gain his attention, the memories flooding back into his consciousness, and the sheer weight of sorrow that plunges him deeper and deeper into the abyss of loneliness, drowning him each time he closes his eyes. Invisible to the world as a homosexual in the 60s, George realizes that the one person he could truly connect with completely, the one person that truly saw him for who he was, has abruptly disappeared. The only desire that remains is to go away too; leave the petty judgments behind and spend eternity with the purist love he’s known.
This is one of the most sure-handed debuts I have ever had the pleasure of watching. Here is a man in Tom Ford that decided to move on from being a fashion designer—one that turned around a company such as Gucci from collapse—to a writer/director in the movie industry. Definitely having a flair for style, the trailer alone got me interested in the film for its sheer beauty and economy of design. Purely images spooling through with the film score at its back, this advertisement showed what kind of visual powerhouse A Single Man could be, but the story was still left in the dark. However, with help from David Scearce, Ford adapted the Christopher Isherwood novel and brought the kind of gravitas of storytelling that was necessary to accompany such a hauntingly image driven work. As for cinematographer Eduard Grau, I’ve never heard of any of the films on his resume, but boy do I hope he starts to run wild in Hollywood with his masterful handling of composition and framing. For all I know Ford storyboarded this thing to the finest detail; whether or not that’s true, he is still the man on top that somehow culled together a group of actors and crewmembers to create a remarkable piece of art, front to back.
No matter how beautiful it is to look at, though, it is only a shell until what’s onscreen becomes real. Colin Firth is better than I have ever seen him, completely intertwined with George and all but removed from his own persona. His world has been shattered so fully and so suddenly that he doesn’t even have time to grieve, nor is he allowed to when Jim’s parents don’t acknowledge the man their son has lived with for sixteen years as a member of the family. An outsider his entire life, the man that made him relevant was now gone. Firth’s collapse into oblivion is emotionally true, especially when juxtaposed by the flashbacks of his wittily sarcastic self, perpetually smiling alongside his boyfriend. To cut harshly between that joy, to the underwater writhing, bound by invisible chains, to the old and beaten man we see in the present only compacts the interior workings of this English professor. The good and the bad are racing past his consciousness so fast that he can’t even linger in happiness long enough to help him through the pain that will soon drive a stake into his heart. All he can think to do is tie up loose ends and ready himself for the next stage of his journey, hopefully the final chapter of a play that has had him alone for longer than he’d care to remember.
Nicholas Hoult—the new muse, so to speak, that has arrived on George’s path—has a wonderful line about us all being born alone, dying alone, and between it all being trapped inside an isolated body. Perhaps we do exist to be by ourselves, many say you can’t truly love another until you do yourself, so there may be a lot of truth to this thought. But no matter how much time we spend walking in circles inside our own head, there are still connections on the outside that we make, relationships to keep us sane and feel valued. Firth’s George speaks about how he doesn’t regret it all; there were still those moments when he connected with someone so fully that all the smog blocking his view dissolved into absolute clarity. We live for these instances—no matter how brief—to give us meaning to go on towards a future that we all know will end in death. The end is inevitable, but the journey is completely up to us. We are given the opportunity to meet people like Julianne Moore’s Charley, lifelong friends to love and cherish, those few souls we let inside and can rely upon implicitly. They are just as messed up and scared as the rest of us, and Charley is no exception, but to see another going through the same hardships as us only proves how we all can survive and beat whatever obstacles block our way.
Our entire lives consist of our own perceptions of what we see, so forgetting to look is the greatest error any of us can make. George is contemplating the end and walking towards it with full knowledge, but along the way he notices the little things that he otherwise was too busy to see before. Ford gives us the close-ups of meticulously drawn eyeliner, the slomotion exhalation of smoke from a would-be actor’s mouth, the simple gifts in life such as a bright yellow pencil sharpener, and the freckled, boisterous laughter of a drunken friend—each frame a snapshot from the viewer, a frozen image that only he had the privilege and perspective to witness. All those remembrances of Jim, that young man strong in body and soul, (portrayed to confident perfection by Matthew Goode), are trapped in our brains to be called upon when needed. Each one of us is filled to the brim with experiences that shape the people we become, ever-evolving, until the day we leave this earth. A Single Man is a manifestation of one man’s realization of how none of the good times would ever have been so without the bad to contrast them. George Falconer is a man pushing into his fifties that only truly knew who he was for a short 16 years of that lifetime. What he didn’t realize, until it all came back to him, was that all we ever need is one singular second to finally see that all the peaks and valleys were worth it. It only takes one moment of pure bliss to erase what came before or will come after—it’s all a dream, after all, one we wander through frame by frame, constructing ourselves with every step.
A Single Man 10/10
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
Colin Firth is a fine actor. Julianne Moore is a wonderful actress. Christopher Isherwood was a great writer. Tom Ford was a great fashion designer. The first three-quarters of this film would make a great Calvin Klein campaign piece. Mr. Ford is so preoccupied with aesthetic that he apparently forgot that he was directing a movie. Since I am unfamiliar with Mr. Isherwood’s book for which this is based on, I can only assume that there was more depth and emotion than what translates to the screen. There are certainly a few humorous moments. Ms. Moore’s character desrves a movie of her own. She is delightfully over the top and it would make a wonderful comedy.
If Mr. Ford is trying to make a statement with the overly stylized meticulous rendering of early 60s fashion and style, he fails. There simply is nothing compelling, let alone emotionally provocative about this piece. Though that changes somewhat towards the end where there seems to be a bit more realism v. the earlier stylism, it is too little too late to make much of a difference.
- Currently 2.0/5 Stars.
A SIngle Man (2009)
Tom Ford’s first picture is arguably a masterpieces, immediately jumping into my top five of all time. Beautiful cinematography and use of color drove the movie the majority of the time, with Colin Firth’s breathtaking performance taking a backseat to it. I have to say, Julianne Moore is totally under-appreciated in this movie, it’s the best performance that I’ve seen by her. Going back the the cinematography, it was literally perfect. Tom Ford’s designer past obviously means he has an eye for color and he was pitch-perfect in his choices. Whenever George was happy the color thickened and became brighter; during his dismal daily routine it was everyday colors mixed with gray to give it a dark tone, similar to The Road. This tool, used very effectively in the picture, was a key element in it’s greatness. I do understand critic’s sentiments that it played out like and hour and a half high end perfume commercial which was true. Ford seems to have been very influenced by the marketing of his former brand, Gucci. The direction when George first woke up and was getting out of bed was strictly a commercial, although a beautiful one. The story was that of a gay man in the 60’s leading a troubled existence after the death of his long-time lover and his shy existence in his community. Every last detail, down to the choice of gun George almost used to kill himself, was perfect. It utilized the utmost style to accurately portray those complex emotions that George was experiencing
- Currently 5.0/5 Stars.
That A Single Man is gorgeous likely goes without saying. As the debut feature from fashion designer Tom Ford, the film’s aesthetic merits were always going to be its greatest virtues. These expectations were firmly cemented by a trailer as visually arresting as any ever produced. And yet the final film exceeds even that glimpse in its aesthetic prowess. To label A Single Man “stunning” is trite but inescapably apt. Very nearly every frame stands on its own as a photographic marvel, to say nothing of the striking juxtapositions achieved by editor Joan Sobel.
Thankfully, particularly in the performance of Colin Firth, the film possesses the substance to compliment its abundant style. Firth is magnetic as George Falconer – the titular single man – struggling, privately, to come to terms with the sudden death of his long-time partner. Firth’s Falconer is a nuanced and eminently empathetic character, possessed of a dignified air that belies his suicidal inclinations. Indeed, Firth’s deeply intelligent, dryly charismatic turn must be one of the most compelling portraits of a gay man in all mainstream cinema. Through Firth, Falconer’s contemplated suicide is rendered not as the product of melodramatic despair, but as a measured response to a keenly communicated, uniquely irretrievable loss.
Though Julianne Moore features nowhere nearly as prominently in the film itself as she does in its marketing campaign, she, too, offers a first-rate performance. She plays Charley, Falconer’s life-long friend and one-time lover, now a middle-aged divorcée. The dinner-for-two between Firth and Moore is the film’s centrepiece, and its most beautifully realized scene in every regard.
By contrast, A Single Man underwhelms slightly in its final third. Much of the blame for the decline falls to Nicholas Hoult, here virtually unrecognizable from his break-through role in 2002’s About a Boy. While there’s no doubt Hoult has matured handsomely, he comes across as little more than a pretty face, and fails to imbue his character with the air of intellectual curiosity the role demands. In turn, the notion that his overtures might revitalize a man as sophisticated as Falconer never quite rings true.
This mis-step aside, A Single Man remains an impressive debut from Ford. Firth will deservedly garner much of the credit, but having produced, adapted, and directed, it is very much Ford’s film. To that, each sumptuously captured frame is a testament.
- Currently 4.0/5 Stars.