A Single Man Is a Meticulous Triumph

A Single Man Is a Meticulous Triumph

A SINGLE MAN Do not get confused. This is not Colin Firth.

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Based on the classic 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man charts a day in the life of George, a gay Englishman employed as a professor at a Los Angeles university. Faultlessly fastidious, George glides through his workdays to return to his life at home with his longtime male lover, in whose arms he tastefully and reservedly blooms. As A Single Man begins, George's meticulous life is thrown into brutal disarray, leaving him a bruised mess whose only goal is to survive another day. A Single Man explores one of these days, from the morning's fresh realization of loss to autopilot dealings with neighbors and colleagues to the type of oddly meaningful small talk with strangers such brutal life upheaval seems to foster. It's a small, quiet, contained thing, and in the hands of director Tom Ford and actor Colin Firth, it becomes one of the year's most ravishing films.

The unexpectedness of this cannot be overstated. Ford is a first-time film director and a well-known fashion designer, and while his visual style makes itself known in every carefully composed frame of his film, it's all in the service of capturing the messy human heart of the story, which Ford accomplishes with a stunningly assured lyricism. Bold moves abound: The film's color saturation increases and decreases in accordance with the narrator's emotional engagement, and major plot points are revealed through intricate bits of cinematic poetry. Anchoring everything is Firth, the titular single man and Ford's emotional avatar, who fills the screen with a performance of rare intelligence and depth. The stealthily stoic bastard had me bawling in the first five minutes, and I hope to bawl some more when Firth claims his Oscar for best actor. recommended


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So why DO you post of picture of Julianne Moore on the article, instead of Colin Firth?
Posted by who's running this thing? on December 23, 2009 at 11:30 AM · Report this
Carlton Van Nostrand 2
This is one of my favorite books. I hope the film lives up to it.
Posted by Carlton Van Nostrand on December 23, 2009 at 2:21 PM · Report this
I saw an early screening of this film and thought it was GORGEOUS! Agreed - one of the very best of the year!
Posted by coffeeboss on December 23, 2009 at 4:59 PM · Report this
Colin Firth is AMAZING in everything he does. I want him inside me.

I can't WAIT for this to start playing online. I look forward to watching with a hanky.
Posted by Christmas Day Man on December 25, 2009 at 2:05 PM · Report this
It's a uniquely pretty movie, but Ford's thoroughly depilated the balls Isherwood gave poor George. Gone is the centerpiece of George's rant to his students, a sharp self-deprecating philosophical jab that's sadly true for us all on as grand and devastating a scale today as when Isherwood wrote it. Even without it, the flick remains thoroughly enjoyable as another Caucasian gay period piece, a SoCal Brokeback with glossier surfaces and far better actors.
Posted by gloomy gus on December 26, 2009 at 9:53 PM · Report this
fuzzy68 6
-who's running this thing- good question...i also wondered. was her performance that unmentionable?
Posted by fuzzy68 on December 27, 2009 at 2:16 PM · Report this

I'd been looking forward to this movie for a long time. I love the time period. I love the actors. I loved the visual style in the trailers. I love the music. But all the hype did not live up to what I witnessed.

The dialogue is laughable. This is a subject matter that has been done a lot recently. This movie had nothing new to add or say. And what it did say, it said poorly.

The acting, on the overall, is bad. There is no dramatic tension or stakes in any of the scenes. It lacks true emotion and is just feigning for it. They get the behavior and time period right, but they don't fill it with anything on the inside.

It's pretty, yes, but to what end? It's too sentimental for its own good and it ends up killing you in the end.

Watch 'Milk' or 'Far From Heaven' at home and call it a night. They are better movies, with better acting, and they tell this tale with more artistry, craft, attention, and emotion.

See it because it's all the rage and has some Oscar buzz, but seriously you might leave with a feeling of ennui.

Posted by ARGH on December 28, 2009 at 4:01 PM · Report this
tornadoZ 8
Sadly, I have to agree with ARGH.

True, Colin Firth is good here (as is Julianne Moore, though she's given little to do in what's basically an extended cameo) and the period costumes, sets and score are all very nice as well, even if the film does look a bit too much like pages carefully torn from a glossy magazine. Unfortunately, beneath A SINGLE MAN's vintage finish lies an overwrought, emotionally empty narrative and a political message about society's fear of minorities that's dropped on the modern audience like an anvil.

Having the film's color saturation increase/decrease in accordance with the professor's emotional engagement creates a goofy and distracting "mood ring" effect that had many in the audience snickering—especially when the effect gets ramped up in the second half as the doe-eyed young stalker/student re-appears on the screen. And the prof's "comical" attempted suicide scene was a drag that seemed to go on forever.

I'd been looking forward to this one for quite a while and, though it wasn't a complete failure, I was pretty bummed that it wasn't a lot better.
Posted by tornadoZ on January 7, 2010 at 1:57 PM · Report this

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