Thursday, January 21, 2010
A Single Man - My Review
I saw Tom Ford’s A Single Man (based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood) and I can’t stop thinking about it! It was so stylish, so beautiful, so interesting. I want to see it again. It was a deeply sad film, but somehow never felt depressing. Colin Firth is a revelation as George Falconer, an expat Brit living in L.A. in 1962. George has recently lost his longtime love, Jim, who died in a tragic car accident, and without him, George’s life is now devoid of color. As he goes through his day teaching Aldous Huxley to bored college students, putting his affairs in order in case he decides to use the gun he carries in his briefcase, having dinner with his lush of a best friend Charley (played gloriously and glamorously by Julianne Moore), and trying to resist the charms of an infatuated student (Nicholas Hoult - grown deliciously up), his life, made bland without Jim’s love, is periodically infused with bright bits of vibrant, sensuous color. These surges of color come from unlikely places: the innocence of a child in a blue party dress, the smell of a dog’s fur, a cigarette shared at sunset with a gorgeous drifter. It’s in these moments that George begins to realize that life may still be worth living.
Colin Firth has given great performances in a variety of films over the years but I’ve never seen him like this before. He is easy and honest and understated playing a character who, as a homosexual in the early 1960s, tries to keep his inner life invisible to those around him. He can’t mourn his lover openly and you feel that repression in every glance, every word, every movement he makes. In flashbacks you get glimpses of the life he led with Jim and you understand the enormity of his loss.
Tom Ford as a first time director used his experience as a renowned fashion designer to create an amazingly stylized version of Los Angeles in 1962. Every scene is crisp, perfectly period, and luxurious. His use of light makes you wish you could live in the L.A. he sees through his lens. Those surges of color that I mentioned earlier? In the film, they are literal surges of color. During these moments Ford saturates the color in the film, so you understand the difference between what George feels most of his day and what he feels when these moments burst through his veil of mourning. It's a brilliant device used with sublime subtlety.
Too bad I already did my Top 10 Films of 2009 list, because this film would have definitely nabbed a spot.