Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A Single Man


A Single Man takes the viewer on a whirlwind character study of a British writer in L.A. This lonely scribe may've lost his soul, or perhaps just the rudder that guides his inspiration. Set in the early 60s the film, based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, captures the sense of wanting the night to never end, of wanting the last drink to be the first of many.
Not oddly, Isherwood at the time depicted in the film was actually in L.A. and adapting the Hollywood insider meets cemetery satire novel The Loved One (written by Evelyn Waugh and based on his own experiences in Tinseltown). The Loved One is on the short list of all time great films as far as film history goes. As movies go A Single Man is no slouch in the film department.
A gay writer/professor looking to score to stave off his depression runs a gauntlet of seedy milieus and existential hesitation. All the while George (Colin Firth) laments over the recent death of his companion (Matthew Goode seen in flashbacks). George goes through his day in a robotic pattern; he teaches, confers with students, calls up his best friend (Julianne Moore) for advice, avoids his across the street straight neighbors who are having a party, has a drink at an ocean view bar. A Single Man distinguishes itself with a linear but stream of consciousness mood exemplified with desaturated colors.
Firth shows a great deal of range even while playing a character that holds most of his feelings on the inside. Firth's performance is matched by a constant tension in Tom Ford's direction that suggests George may be on the cusp of losing it. Ford himself makes a smashing feature film debut as a writer/director after a successful career as a fashion designer.

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