"A Single Man" Blu-ray, DVD Movie Review (2010)

7/04/2010 Posted by Admin

“A Single Man”

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

Directed by Tom Ford, written by Ford and David Scearce, 99 minutes, rated R.

By Christopher Smith

Tom Ford's Academy Award-nominated "A Single Man" is his first film and, in spite of taking place in 1962, it’s timely as hell, particularly in the ongoing debate of equal rights for gay men and women, which have yet to be achieved.

The film is based on Christopher Isherwood’s novel, and it stars Colin Firth as George, a gay, middle-aged man who loses his long-time partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), after a horrific car accident.

A professor of humanities, George suddenly finds himself caught in an inhumane world. Since nothing legally binds him to Jim, he is banned from Jim’s funeral when Jim’s family states that they don’t want him there, thank you very much, so please stay away. When he learns about Jim’s death, it’s only via a brief telephone call. Humane? Hardly--especially since he and Jim were together 16 years.

What that kind of cruelty does to a person--and how the loss of a significant other can profoundly affect a person, whether straight or gay--is what “A Single Man” is about.

In the wake of Jim’s death, George is aloft, rootless, caught in a haze of mourning. The passing of days don’t fulfill that old cliché that states that time heals all wounds--for George, that’s something of a joke. His loneliness and heartbreak thrums onscreen. Grief is etched into his face. In his eyes are a hollowness and a hurt that Firth, in one of his finest performances, captures with haunting ease.
Essentially, he plays a dead man walking, with suicide viewed as potentially the only way out of the pain and the injustice he feels.

And yet through all this, another young man at George’s university tries to edge into George’s life. At another point, a James Dean knockoff also closes in. But George is grieving, and while there is part of him that is curious about this attention, another part of him is repelled by it. His love for Jim is deep. It’s not replaceable. For a reprieve from the ache he feels, he turns to Charley (Julianne Moore), a beautiful drunk who likes her gin almost as much as she likes her eyeliner. There’s love between them, but you sense it’s a different kind of love for Charley than it is for George.

Ford and David Scearce wrote the script, and the film’s presence on the scene punctuates the ongoing issues surrounding the move toward equality for gay couples. The movie doesn’t define the debate so much as it adds to it. Who’s to say who we are to love? Why does the minority lack the equality of the majority? Are George’s emotions second-rate? He was with Jim for 16 years. Does that mean nothing? To the law, it does.

As a director, Ford is very good at holding back and letting his excellent cast do their jobs, which they do well. Occasionally, he lapses into such tricks as sucking the color from the film in an effort to capture George’s increasingly colorless world, but that gimmick doesn’t work against the movie. The leads are too strong, the writing is too solid, and the ethics at hand are too dire to ignore to let a few lapses in judgment get in the way of George’s unfortunately realistic story.

Grade: B+

View the trailer for "A Single Man" below. What are your thoughts?

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  1. lisa said...

    The review makes it sound interesting. This movie does what art is suppose to make you do--- be uncomfortable, think, question.

    It's easier to see women kiss than men, though I haven't an issue with gay relationships.

    hmmm, feeling uncomfortable with that picture... might have to challenge myself... time to go see a movie.

  2. Admin said...

    I put that picture there for a reason, juxtaposing it against the photo of the two women kissing. Why do you feel uncomfortable? Why is it acceptable for two women to kiss and not two men? No judgment here, just wondering.


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