A Single Man – Review
Last night I witnessed something remarkable.
Tom Ford’s A Single Man wasn’t a film that I hadn’t really heard of until I the news filtered through about Colin Firth’s BAFTA nomination. However, based on what I saw, I’m glad I made the decision to see this and not ahem… Wolfman.
Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, A Single Man, is the story of George Falconer, a 52 year old British college professor [Colin Firth] who is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner, Jim [Matthew Goode]. George dwells on the past and cannot see his future as we follow him through a single day, where a series of events and encounters, ultimately leads him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend Charley [Julianne Moore], a 48 year old beauty who is wrestling with her own questions about the future. A young student of Georges, Kenny [Nicholas Hoult], who is coming to terms with his true nature, stalks George as he feels in him a kindred spirit. A Single Man is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.
The film is quite astonishing really and this sense of appreciation is exacerbated when you consider that this is the directorial début of Tom Ford, he also wrote and produced the film (self financing the film) and this incredible adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s powerful book took a mere 21 days to shoot. He’s set the bar so high on this film, I think he could quite happily hang up his directorial gloves and feel satisfied.
Ford recently said that A Single Man, “is Colin Firth’s film” and to a certain extent this is very true. Ford allows the camera to linger on Firth and is positioned to make you feel every ounce of torment that George is subjected to as he comes to terms with the removal of part of him and the acceptance of his current situation. Firth’s performance is tender in all the right places and as a viewer you become heavily invested in the character even though he is veiled with a blanket of mystery and sadness. His performance is a cooking pot of emotions as even when on the verge of ending his life he is able to find humour in the situation. Whilst the film really is a gargantuan showpiece for Firth, that isn’t to say that the supporting roles aren’t equally up to the task of making this film even more beautiful. I make particular reference to Nicholas Hoult, who has popped up in various places over the past few year e.g. About a Boy and Skins, but in this role excels as Kenny who shows George that life does go on. Having said that though, the film really is a triumph for Ford and I cannot enthuse enough about it. The colours that Ford has chosen and the soft directorial touches he adds throughout provide the viewer with an array of contrasting shots and textures, all of which neatly tying into the world in which George lives.
Whilst it may not sound like your cup of tea, A Single Man is a highly charged emotional rollercoaster and has, in much the same way as Ford, a potent blend of charisma and style. Quite honestly before I had seen this I would have backed Jeremy Renner for the Oscar for best male performance, but on reflection you won’t see a more beautiful performance than that given by Firth. I don’t envy the Academy forced to pick between the two of them though. Could be an extremely interesting awards ceremony this year. If you can, get out and see the film sooner rather than later.
Check out the trailer here