A Single Man
Set in Los Angeles in 1962, A Single Man is the story of George, a gay university professor, grieving over the unexpected death of his longtime partner in an automobile accident. As the movie opens, George receives an early morning call telling him of his partner’s death while visiting family in Colorado. George is also told that he is not welcome to attend the family’s private memorial service.
George has no one in whom he can confide with the exception of his friend and neighbor Charley (Julianne Moore) who invites him over for dinner that evening. In the meantime, he goes to the university in a cloud of grief, questioning the meaning of life during a literature class. In his grief, George even considers taking his own life after his dinner with Charley. In the meantime, he is both annoyed and flattered by the attention given to him by Kenny, one of his students.
Colin Firth, an actor best known for his performances in Jane Austen films, is very good as George. Firth allows the audience experience George’s grief in its many stages as he makes it through this awful day. Firth is frequently mentioned as an Oscar nominee. His performance is the best thing about the film. I also appreciated the effective score by Abel Korzenioroski.
A Single Man is the directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford, who also co-authored the screenplay with David Searce, based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood. Ford’s background in fashion design is obvious from the meticulous attention to the visual aspects of every frame of the film. His technique eventually becomes overly self-conscious, and detracts from the film. It’s as if Ford is directing a fashion shoot rather than a film.
On the whole, A Single Man is a well-intentioned, well-acted film, bogged down by an over-emphasis on its visual style. Rather than feeling illuminated, I left the theater depressed and frustrated.
Tom Condon, OP