Monday, April 23, 2012

"A Single Man"

We saw “A Single Man” a few months ago, but I forgot to write about it until now.  There are two things about the film that are memorable – one that is very positive, the other not so much.

The very positive thing is Colin Firth’s performance.  It’s as impressive, if not more so, than his Oscar-winning performance in The King’s Speech.  As far as characters go, George Falconer – an expatriate Brit teaching college-level English in Los Angeles –  is about as far away from King George VI as one can possibly imagine.  A gay man in the early 1960s, George lives his life in a repressed state, even more so since the death of his longtime partner in an automobile accident.  As the movie begins, it soon becomes apparent that George intends the day that the film depicts to be the last of his life.  Literally, he cannot take the pain anymore.  But over the course of the day that unfolds, his encounters with others – friends, students and hangers-on – lead him in some interesting directions.

The not-so-good thing is the approach the film takes at the direction of Tom Ford.  Ford is a fashion designer by trade, and with his use of color (or lack thereof) and composition, he directs the film as if it were a model strolling down the runway in Milan, Paris, or New York City.  It’s flash, and it’s memorable.  But is it all necessary?  It’s almost as if Ford did not trust his material or his actors to bring a fully-realized story to the screen – and what one ends up with is the directorial equivalent of Jon Lovitz’ Master Thespian, screaming out (instead of “acting!) “Directing! Directing!”

Even with those shortcomings, “A Single Man” is worth seeing for Firth’s performance and how Falconer interacts with the other characters in the film – particularly Julianne Moore in a wild performance as a very crazed friend.

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