A Single Man


Directed by: Tom Ford
Written by:Tom Ford, David Scearce
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Ryan Simpkins, Ginnifer Goodwin
Released: February 25, 2010
Grade: A

Let’s talk about fashion.  When you see those ridiculously skinny models walk down the catwalks of New York and Milan, what do you make of it all?  Do you appreciate the creativity of the designers and the beautiful clothes that they create?  Or do you think it’s all a bunch of nonsense?  That it’s just an excuse for high society to get together and fawn over a bunch of unwearable outfits?

It may seem like a strange question to ask in a movie review but it may help you decide if A Single Man is worth seeing.  It marks the directorial debut of Tom Ford.  If you don’t know the name, Ford is one of the world’s leading fashion designers.  He worked for Gucci and Yves Saint-Laurent before starting his own company in 2004.

So why is a fashion designer making a movie?  I thought about that question for a while but I guess it’s the same reason why anyone would make a movie.  He was attracted to Christopher Isherwood’s novel and he wanted to bring it to life in his own special way.  If you’ve got the financial support and you’ve got a strong cast, why wouldn’t you do it?

I think A Single Man is a brave first film.  Ford has taken his creativity from the fashion world and brought it into the movie world.  He’s not subtle about it either.  This is a visual indulgence.  He mixes the colours on screen to fit in the mood of the characters.  He uses long slow-motion sequences and extreme facial close-ups to highlight the beauty of the situation.  It’s all backed by an epically romantic film score from Polish composer Abel Korzeniowksi.

The story is set in Los Angeles in the early 1960s and centres on a middle aged English professor named George (Firth).  Eight months ago, he received the worst news of his life.  His long time partner, Jim (Goode), had been killed in a car accident.  It’s a loss that George feels he cannot overcome.  As he walks around his empty house on a cold winter morning, George knows this will be his last day.  He just needs to tie up a few loose ends and purchase a bullet for his handgun.

We see flashbacks of George’s relationship with Jim but the film’s focus is on his interaction with two people who will shape his final moments.  The first is his long time friend, Charley (Moore).  They share a love of good music, good conversation and good gin.  The two are quite close but Charley wishes they were much closer.  She’s harboured a crush on a George for many years and has had trouble accepting the fact that he’s gay.

The second person is Kenny (Hoult), a teenage student from one of George’s classes.  Kenny stares intently at George during a lecture and then strikes up a conversation with him afterwards.  He senses something askew with his teacher and asks if he could use a friend.  Is Kenny just a good natured kid or is there something more behind his kindness?

It’s a shame that the film has received just one Academy Award nomination – for Colin Firth’s great performance.  It’s not a perfect movie but the costumes, cinematography and music are all award worthy in my eyes.  It should come as no surprise that Julianne Moore is brilliant once again.  I wish she could have more screen time.  Also superb is youngster Nicholas Hoult who many will remember as the young kid from About A Boy.  He’s not afraid of a challenging role and I think a long and successful career lies ahead.

You should have picked up from my opening thoughts that this isn’t a film for everyone.  Some will love it for its boldness, its originality.  Others will hate it for its boldness, its originality.  We’ve all got different tastes and that’s one of the many reasons why I love talking about movies.