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A Single Man (DVD)
Member Name: MarcoG
A Single Man (DVD)
Advantages: Visual Stunning, Thought Provoking
Disadvantages: Slow Burning
"If one is not enjoying one's present, there isn't a great deal to suggest that the future should be any better" (George)
I saw "A Single Man" on DVD recently. You know when you watch one of those films, that when you finish it, you can't stop thinking about it? It had that affect on me. It has themes and ideas that hit me, and it's all I can think about. In the smallest of nutshells, this film explores the ideas of your last day of existence - seeing beauty in the simple and ordinary things. What would you do with your last few hours? With that, the film depicts love and loss - I feel there is a poignancy in this film that will resonate with a lot of people.
This film, based on the book by Christopher Isherwood is the directorial debut of stylist and fashionista, Tom Ford. Set in 1960s Los Angeles on the eve of the Cuban Missile crisis, this visually stunning film transports you back in time, with a gritty and bleak, yet sophisticated style. George (Colin Firth) is a man, left alone after his lover passed away. The film is littered with a series of flashbacks, of George grieving and thinking about the love and happiness he had with Jim (Matthew Goode). Through visits to see Charley (Julianne Moore), his best friend, more details about George's background is revealed. He has decided he wants to end his life, as his broken heart is too much to bare. Throughout his last day, he notices little things that he would not have appreciated before - the bright red of someone's lip, the charm of meeting someone for the first time, the smell of fresh air and the small kindness offered from strangers. George is a teacher, who also becomes the object of affection by student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult). Through their teacher/pupil relationship we see that life isn't as clear cut as it appears on the surface. Kenny buys George a little yellow pencil sharpener to show appreciation for talking to him. Retrospectively this is a bit of an odd gift, but nevertheless, George keeps it on him in his pocket - it's the little things that are standing out to George.
Julianne Moore plays the British and regretful Charley with sincerity and grace. Her accent is questionable but not terrible. Her character holds a torch for George, and longs that they could have got together. Her husband has left her and her son has moved out - she too, is alone. British actor, Matthew Goode, plays Jim, George's lover. Jim is handsome, sweet and charming. We learn how George and Jim first met and how life living together was beautiful, in their beautifully designed house. Goode's accent is good (better than Moore's British attempt anyway) and truth of character believable. British actor and Skins star, Nicholas Hoult plays Kenny, the student. I feel that Hoult is a remarkably underrated actor with a bright future. He played his character with maturity and vigeur, encapsulating a naive charm that hooks George's attention. He also had a convincing american accent (what is it about this film and casting actors that don't talk in the native dialect???)...A real star of this movie.
Fashion designer and all round style legend, Tom Ford directs this masterpiece as his debut. His sensibility is really tested in this film, and I feel he succeeds. One of the things that gripped me about this film, is the look - it oozes class and 60s charm. His background as a designer and fashion house is clear in his direction - each detail on the screen is beautifully presented. His sense of direction comes across on screen as precise and carefully engineered. It felt that at any moment, you could pause the film and be left with a poster worthy image. Ford has captured a sense of the 60s with poise. The feel is stylish but remaining true to George's bleak state of mind. Through George's eyes and memories, objects and elements brighten up to reflect their unnoticed beauty that is taken for granted in the day to day. Ford brings out a real sense of who the characters are and where their drivers come from.
Accompanied by a few 60s tracks that many will remember, the original score is beautiful capturing a real sense of time and place. Some well known 60s music appears, on top of an enlightening original score, the soundtrack probably has something that should delight everyone from the avid American nostalgic to the classical music lover.
If you have a spare hour or two, and looking for a film that will make you think and more importantly, make you appreciate life and everything in it - this film is for you. It is slow burning, and It's not "feel good" per se, so it steers more towards the profound and poignant. Colin Firth is flawless in this film. He brings depth, charm and vulnerability to a broken man, who is a shadow of the man we see in flashbacks with his lover, where he is full of life and vibrancy. His performance is astounding. Needless to say, he won the Oscar for best Actor (as well as a host of other awards) for his role in this film, back in 2009. He under plays the role with deft sensitivity and a quality that bring a lump to the throat of the hardiest cold heart.
"Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty". (Carlos, a character that George meets)
A tricky subject to handle for his debut, but Ford deals with the issues of forbidden love, abandonment, loss and greif with dexterity. Certainly leaving plenty for the viewer to think about.
Thanks for reading
© MarcoG 2012
I've also create a page on Squidoo about this, which contains clips, including the trailer which is definately worth having a look at: http://www.squidoo.com/ASingleMan2009
Summary: Issues of forbidden love, abandonment, loss and grief. Plenty for the viewer to think about!