A Single Man (2009)

Just Get Through the Goddamn Day

Director: Tom Ford

Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult

Genre: Drama

Type: Independent

Running Time: 99 minutes

Rated R (for some disturbing images and nudity/sexual content)

Tom Ford. That’s right. Tom Ford, Fashion Designer. His profession alone is the driving factor to what hindered me from watching this movie for so long.
However, this man knew what he was doing. Right from the start, this notion of “drowning and suffocating” is stealthily established in visual imagery. Some of you may have felt elements of a Hithcockian film early on. And then BAM! A poster of Psycho is seen later on against a wall in a parking lot. Tom Ford showed great emphasis on the eyes, as Hitchcock often did in his films. Tom knows his stuff. One may even notice that all the eyes that George (played by Colin Firth) are all similar to those of his dead lover’s. In short, it was very skilfully made, an unexpected result from a fashion mogul. His use of jump cuts, zoom, pan, and colour were all used essentially to express a deeper notion. In my opinion, he also did a great job of implementing a simplistic and meaningful mise-en-scene.
Many of us are used to seeing Colin Firth as a wimpy, yet endearing lover in films such as Bridget Jones,Love ActuallyPride & Prejudice, and Mamma Mia!. However, he takes a new and provocative turn as a gay man in A Single Man who has lost his love to death and consequently, his zest for life. Firth has crafted his character of George with such earnest and complexity, it feels completely raw and honest to us as the audience. We can relate (even those of us who aren’t gay men). Particularly moving was his response upon finding out that JIm (Matthew Goode) died. Many actors do not show such emotion in one long take, and their performance is often broken up into many shots. However, we see Firth go from happy, to welcoming, to taken aback, to hurt, to hopeless, to sad, to downright devastated all in one painful take. This man can act.
I will also mention Nicholas Hoult who some of you may remember from his break out role in About A Boy (2002) with another British fave, Hugh Grant. He disappeared for a while and could be seen working on a quite entertaining British teen drama about sex and drugs called Skins during 2007-2008. He played cool and cunning Tony Stonhem and didn’t require much range in his acting ability until Tony gets into an accident, and his whole personality does a 180. I like Nicholas Hoult, and you will too if you don’t already. (It doesn’t hurt that he’s a good looking chap as well).
One scene in particular that touched me, was the revelation of what happened to the other dog, the ‘small female’. Apparently, she was never found. Just Jim and the male dog were found dead at the accident. I can’t help but identify this as a metaphor for Jim and George, where George is sadly, the ‘small female’ that no one cared about. Clever.

The Long and Short: For me, this movie does not fall short in any way, shape or form.

My Recommendation: See this movie. I highly recommend it. It is worth it, especially the satisfying and emotionally correct ending (which I won’t give away).

Favourite Scene: When George finds out the love of his life is dead. The range of emotion displayed in that one long take is completely divine.

Verdict:  A+


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