Review: A Single Man

A Single Man | Tom Ford, 2009

One of my favorite sayings is “life is hard, then you die.” The reason for this is because it is the truth. It seems like every day when we get home from work or school we seem tired. We may enjoy what we do, but there is no denying that most of the time things get too complicated. And then, one day when you least expect it, fate decides that it’s time for  you to go. And everything you have done up to that point doesn’t matter anymore.

That is the dilemma that George (Colin Firth) faces in Tom Ford’s beautiful directorial debut A Single Man. He is a homosexual in the 1960s,and it has been about eight months his his partner of 16 years, Jim (Matthew Goode) died in a car accident. The time since has been really hard for him, so on November 30, 1962 he decides that he is going going to do his duties for the day, set his affairs in order, and then end it all. Among those things are clearing out his office at a Los Angeles college, get everything out of the bank, leave an evelope with money for the lady that cleans his house, and hang out with his best friend Charlotte (Juliane Moore). Througout the day he runs into things that could change his mind, such as a young student named Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) who seems to like him. But he has decided that his fate is ending his life, and so plans to do just that.

While not a masterpiece, A Single Man is a beautiful movie in just about every department. The story is one that every one can relate to despite what your beliefs are. And the script conveys it in such a great way, from the dialogue to mis-en-scene. Also, the direction is quite outstanding. This was the directorial debut for fashion designer Tom Ford, but it’s like he knew what he was doing. The close-ups, the way the color changes when George’s day brightens up, all his decisions work perfectly. Now, his work his not perfect, therefore the movie is far from perfect, but it is definitely a great debut and I hope he continues to make more movies.

Another thing that is beautiful is the production, starting with the cinematography. The movie is nearly colorless, but it still manages to be beautiful. And when something good happens to George, or something brightens his day bright colors suddenly pop up, and it looks even better. I do not see any other way this movie could have been shot. Also, the set designs and the costumes are among the best of the year. The only thing that sometimes felt out of place is the music. Don’t get me wrong, Abel Korzeniowski’s score is fantastic, but sometimes it can be overbearing.

While this is all great, the performances are the best thing about the movie. Without them, the movie would not have worked at all. Colin Firth gives the best male performance of the year. His work is rather subtle, but he just grabs you from the first moment you see him. He should have won the Oscar, but I don’t mind him losing to Jeff Bridges. Julianne Moore is not in it very much, but she does everything she can with her segment, and that makes it the highlight of the movie. The only other substancial performance is Nicholas Hoult’s and he does a good job with the small role he is given. And Lee Pace is in it, so that’s always a plus.

A Single Man is one of the best movies of the year. I can’t wait to see it again, maybe on blu-ray.

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