A Single Man
Directed by: Tom Ford
Starring, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore,
Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode.
He was my North, my South, my East, my West,
My Morning week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever, I was wrong
W.H Auden: Funeral Blues
By far, A Single Man is one of the most gorgeously shot films I've ever seen(The visionary Wong-Kar Wei stands as the champion of lushly beautiful cinema). It's a film whose true feeling is perfectly depicted in its cinematography, its down to a T reproduction of the early sixties, and, thankfully, in its brave, heartbreaking, and utterly spellbinding story.
And that is a gift from god in itself, for too often is a paper thin story masked by an intricate and ornate environment we forget is created for the film and only the film. No, A Single Man aptly balances the fine line between style and substance, dream and reality. And it's a reflection of sheer stupidity on behalf of the Academy for snubbing and leaving this uniquely wonderful film out of the running for Best Picture in favor of ham fisted biopics that capitalize on the emotions of its audience and mistakes schmaltz for substance.
Ranting aside, A Single Man is a very simple, yet well developed story centered around George, a closeted gay English professor in the early 1960's. His lover, Jim, was killed in a car accident the day prior, and George loses his faith in living. Throughout the day, George is chased after by an eager student, quietly annoyed by his picture perfect neighbors, and invited to dinner with an old friend, all the while planning his imminent demise.
George is played by Colin Firth, and his understated emotions carry the weight of his performance. Portraying a deeply saddened character, Firth erases the permeters of sexuality, for the pain he feels of losing his only love is universal. It's tragic, and often quite painful to watch George as he plans out his death, yet we the viewer are unable to sway him from doing anything else. Less voyeuristic than it is encompassing, A Single Man reflects not only a man in mourning, but a changing era in American history. The Beatles are on the verge of becoming world famous, J.F.K's death is only a few months away, and by the end of this diverse decade, our nation will be at war, fighting for something no solder truly believes in. When George interacts with his surroundings, we see how truly polarized he is from the rest of the world. His old friend, and ex-wife, played by a cruelly ignored Julianne Moore lives in an apartment that might be a drag queen's dream come true and has fun by doing 'The Twist'. Moore's scenes with Firth give off a beautiful chemistry that is truly alluring. To consider the life both characters have had to deal with, it's wonderful to see how amid sexual identity and loves gone astray, the two are still thicker than thieves.
Also ignored by the Academy is the luminous scenery, as directed by long time fashion designer, first time film director, Tom Ford. Seeing how much he put of himself into the film makes me only the more eager to see what other films, if any, he will come up with. When Ford plays with the cinematography, letting colors fade or pop, depending on the mood of the scene, it's exciting, and you can tell Ford is clearly thinking abstractly.
Ultimately, A Single Man is a bittersweet orchid, blooming life in the most unexpected of places, adding dabs of color to its devestating story, and mixing beauty and art to create a powerful and affecting film. Better than Brokeback in my opinion, and less uplifiting than Milk, A Single Man looks to be the future of gay cinema, I only hope that America, and the Academy, is willing to embrace such an out of the box type of moviemaking.