A Single Man * * * * *
Director: Tom Ford.
Screenplay: Tom Ford, David Scearce.
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ryan Simpkins, Teddy Sears, Joe Kortajarena, Paulette Lamori, Lee Pace, Adam Shapiro.
In the words of Colin Firth’s character: “If there’s going to be a world where there’s no time for sentiment, then that’s a world I don’t want to live in”. What with the subject matter and characterisation, ‘sentiment’ is exactly what’s required to fully enjoy this near masterpiece.
George Falconer (Colin Firth) is a closested homosexual English college professor now living and teaching in Los Angeles in 1962. At the height of the Cuban missile crisis George is only concerned and haunted by the death of Jim (Matthew Goode), his soulmate of 16 years, in a car crash. Over the course of a day, he fastidiously plans his own death as he cannot stop dwelling on the past and is unable to see his future despite advances from his long time friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult).
Sometimes a film comes along that doesn’t grap your attention straight away. It’s only through time that the critical acclaim it recieved can be ignored no longer. This is that type of film for me. I’m also not Colin Firth’s biggest fan either. However, on both judgmental accounts, I have been very very wrong. This flawlessly detailed character study of a desperate, tormented and heart-broken man is one of the finest films and central performances of 2009. I have no idea why I consistantly allow the Oscars to sursprise me but this film recieved ONE nomination from that year. Deservedly, that one was for Colin Firth but how can the rest possibly be ignored? What about the screenplay, the cinematography and Tom Ford’s direction? I’m astonished it didn’t recieve more. Everything about this film oozes class; the 60’s setting is beautifully captured with it’s attention to detail and strikingly rich photography by Eduard Grau; the slow motion scenes with overbearing sound effects; the subtle changes of colour saturation providing an excellent technique in developing the mood and feeling of Firth’s character and a fitting soundtrack to accompany the lush imagery. Anchoring all of this artistry is Colin Firth with his stoic exterior and crumbling interior. He’s absolutely marvellous and delivers a far superior performance than his Oscar winning role in “The Kings Speech“. I’m starting to think the Academy gave him it a year later after realising that Firth really shouldn’t have lost out for this. If Jeff Bridges wasn’t so good in “Crazy Heart“, the award had Firth’s name all over it. What’s also hard to believe is that this is Tom Ford’s directorial debut. He handles the material skillfully and assuredly, delivering one of the most accomplished films in recent times and surely the only direction he can go after this, is down.
This is the film that the multi-award winning “The King’s Speech” wishes it was. It may be a bit bleak or risque for some tastes but this is sensitive, mature filmmaking of the highest order. An exuberant, unflinching masterclass from everyone involved.