Movie Review: A Single Man
Every year, it seems like a new filmmaker comes out with a movie that reasserts my faith in film and reminds me why I love movies. Last year, it was the phenomenal Steve McQueen film, Hunger. This year, that film is A Single Man, the directoral debut of fashion designer Tom Ford. His approach to filmmaking is refreshingly classic and pure, but there is still a personal touch that makes it feel original. The result is one of the very best movies of the year.
The film takes place over the course of one day in the life of a college professor named George, played in an Oscar caliber performance by Colin Firth. The day begins with George awaking from a nightmare, still dealing with the sudden death of his long-time partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). The day’s agenda includes lecturing his class on a Huxley novel, contemplating suicide scenarios, and dinner with a past lover (Julianne Moore). His deceased partner, Jim, is introduced in a series of flashback sequences throughout the film.
The pace of the film is understandably slow considering the short time-span that it covers, but it is always interesting and beautiful to look at. Every shot is perfectly framed and focused. So many independent filmmakers are obsessed with handheld shots these days, that it is encouraging to see someone put the camera on a tripod and carefully craft each individual shot. There is an abundance of close-ups which would normally bother me, but they are so well done and such an important part of the film that it just wouldn’t be the same without them.
Firth is typically known for more light-hearted fare, such as Bridget Jones’s Diary and Love Actually, but his acting in this intensely serious drama is truly captivating. He exudes a true emptiness and loneliness that results from the loss of his loved one.
Ford focuses his camera on the most minute details: lips, eyes, cigarette sparks. They are flashes of beauty that bring peace to an otherwise miserable world that George finds himself situated in. Ford frequently changes the hue and tone of the picture from bland greys to exuberant colors depending on the perception of Firth’s character. The mesmerizing musical score sets a melancholy tone for the drama that unfolds throughout the film. It is one of the most memorable scores I have heard in recent years.
A Single Man is a piece of genius that was designed and crafted with care by Tom Ford. He isn’t getting the attention that the big names like Eastwood and Cameron are, but he gives one of the most impressive directorial efforts of the year. Ford serves up the perfect palette for Firth to paint over in a performance that will surely be the best of his career.