A SINGLE MAN
Directed by Tom Ford
Starring Colin Firth, Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult
“Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty.”
George (Firth) is an English professor at a Los Angeles school in the 1960s who decides he is unable to cope with the sudden death of his partner Jim (Goode) whom he lost a year earlier. The film takes place over the course of, what George thinks is to be his last day. He goes about preparing for his suicide in an almost ritualistic manner while continuing his daily duties.
A Single Man is aesthetically over-awing. From the beautiful cast to the striking costume, every aspect of this movie will strike a chord with the creative souls amongst us. While some will find this level of stylisation unnecessary, others will find it breathtakingly appropriate. We need not justify Colin Firth’s acting talent, he is a true great, but this is definitely one of his strongest portrayals to date.
The 60s influence is entrenched in every shot and it’s clear that every single detail of this film has come straight from the eye of Tom Ford. The makeup, the clothes and the model-like standard of every actor would not be out of place in a high fashion magazine, and as opposed to this level of style alienating, it merely enhances what is an extremely novel perspective. Ford has brought an unusual filming style to the table, one that should not be written off. At first the candid close-ups seem intrusive and curiously distracting. Likewise the work with changing saturation ranging from near black and white to vivid colour may initially seem heavy handed; but it’s not. These techniques seem to be a subtle way of illustrating the times when George is focusing on the beauty of isolated events believing he is seeing these things for the last time. Tom Ford acknowledges the sheer beauty that can crop up in the most bleak and mundane places, to the point that there seems to be something worth appreciating in every circumstance.
But without getting carried away with the visuals, it has to be said that the plot and script writing is staggeringly good. As we proceed through George’s day and series of flashbacks all we need to learn about this man is plain to see: his relationships with others, his view of life and his reasons for living. This film isn’t about the hedonic and fleeting moments of beauty; it is a searing study of pain, loss and the torture inflicted by personal memories. Tom Ford toys with the concepts of fear, love and grief against the mundane existence of a single man. By the end of it film, it is clear that life itself is not so dull and in the most unexpected places you can find reasons to go on.