I’ve finally found a film that is artsy but definitely not fartsy. A Single Man is visually stunning from beginning to end and does what all good films do: tells an interesting story.
This movie should be next to the definition of what a film should accomplish. It strikes the perfect balance of unique visual storytelling that, unlike most artsy films, actually aids the plot. Director Tom Ford combines his eye for detail and aesthetics, two traits no doubt perfected in his years as a fashion designer, and makes gorgeous costume and hair and makeup choices that embody the 60s. The music is also fantastic and Ford’s fashion background is evident in the casting of a large number of attractive people, not that I’m not complaining.
A Single Man is told from the point of view of George Falconer (Colin Firth) an English professor. Even though it is a year after the death of Jim (Matthew Goode), his lover, he still finds it incredibly hard to live normally. This day-in-life-of film follows him on the day he decides to kill himself.
The opening of the film is engaging and is what made me watch the film in its entirety. The lines throughout are striking and show how anal George is. Pops of color, which only appear during memory sequences and when Kenny, George’s student, appears, are great contrasts to George’s own grayish color. This film moves at an excellent pace and makes what could have been a depressing day, at times, quite humorous and interesting. George’s conversations with various people throughout the day don’t result in a cliché “I see the world in a new light!” Instead through the use of insert cuts, close-ups, and slow-motion, the film does a fine job of capturing how George, like many people, tries to memorize things that once seemed insignificant because he knows his whole world is about to change.
Besides Colin Firth‘s subtle yet superb acting, Julianne Moore‘s and Matthew Goode‘s performances are also noteworthy, even though they only appear in a few scenes. Moore does the most authentic British accent I’ve ever heard (granted I am an American). One of the things I really love about this film is that George and Jim’s homosexual relationship isn’t stressed. It simply is. During a lecture, George speaks about how minorities are often hated because they are feared. This fear often grows when the minority is invisible. The beauty of this speech is that although it clearly refers to discrimination against homosexuals, it does so in a way that is not preachy.
The final scene in A Single Man is nearly perfect and deeply resonated with me. George decides not to kill himself and, as soft classical music plays in the background, says the following:A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.
Although the ending was a little too ironic, I still thoroughly enjoyed this movie. I am enamored with Ford‘s filmmaking debut and can’t wait to see more of his work in the future.