A Single Man: Movie Review
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew
Director: Tom Ford
Finally, the Oscar films are making their way to our cinemas.
The latest is A Single Man, based on the book of the same name, the
directorial debut of Tom Ford and the film which saw plaudits rained down upon
its leading actor, Colin Firth.
Firth stars as Professor George Falconer, a gay English professor who lives
in 1960s Southern California. As the film begins - and via viewers' flashback,
he's told by a phone call that his long term partner Jim (Goode) has been killed
in a car crash.
Struggling to find any reason to carry on after the death of his 16 year
relationship, and reflecting on his past and seemingly empty future, Falconer
sets about planning for the end of his life via suicide.
What follows are his attempts to say goodbye and bring some order to his life
at the end - and the seemingly mundane duties of his last day at college, dinner
with his old friend Charlie (Julianne Moore) and drinks with a student Kenny
(About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult) all bring a special significance to Falconer.
A Single Man is a stylistically heavy film - it won't surprise you to learn
that it's from the same production design team who make TV's Mad Men; in fact a
lot of the stylish recreations of the time are perfectly encapsulated on the
But Ford's made a ham fist of some of his direction - there's plenty of close
up scenes focusing on eyes; be it of people or in one case of a massive poster;
these seem odd distractions and motifs which don't really fit in.
Likewise Nicholas Hoult's Kenny appears to have been airbrushed to within an
inch of his life; with his spray tan and bleached teeth, it's like watching a
mannequin - again, there's nothing wrong with his performance, but it just
distracts from the overall feel.
However - those
are just minor niggles because A Single Man is Colin Firth's film. I'll freely
admit I've never really rated him (sorry ladies, I know many of you are thinking
of that scene from Pride and Prejudice) as an actor - but after this
performance, I really am going to have to re-evaluate him because he's
sensational and sears on the screen in this.
One scene when he's told of Jim's death is just stunning to watch; in just a
few moments Firth conveys every conceivable emotion you'd expect of someone
who's just been told their one true love has died; it's heartbreaking to watch
and yet mesmerizing to see him perform so well. Firth commands your attention
and never once betrays that commitment.
Where A Single Man also works so well is in its portrayal of Jim and George's
relationship - never once is it in your face; it's subtle, tender and loving, a
relationship to aspire to and thanks to that, you fully understand George's
emotive response to his loss.
A Single Man is a slice of sophisticated cinema; it's slick (perhaps a little
too much in places) but thanks to Colin Firth, it's a hypnotic film which will
be cherished by many.