Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Day 328 - A Single Man

A Single Man (2009) directed by Tom Ford

A Single Man features Colin Firth's greatest performance (yes, even better than his award winning role in The King's Speech), where he plays George Falconer, a gay college professor who grieves for the loss of his lover. It is a remarkably strong and touching performance where it is hard to tell where Firth ends and Falconer begins. He blends so perfectly into his role we forget we are watching a performance and not a real man who has suffered life's greatest loss, the death of a loved one.

The film opens with George laying in bed in a daze. There's spilt ink on the bed but doesn't seem to care or even notice. There is a dreamlike sequence where he sees his lover lying dead at the scene of the car crash that killed him eight months ago. You get the impression George has been this way for a while and this dreamlike feeling permeates throughout the film as we observe him sleepwalk through his daily routines while reminiscing on his time with his lover. But he is not sleepwalking. He has a clear purpose in mind today and that is to end his life. He pays extra compliments to his fellow people, teaches his last class, clears out his office and buys bullets for his gun, but perhaps life isn't as depressing as it may seem. A Single Man is a beautifully constructed film that showcases the pain of loss and the overbearing depression that follows.

In a lecture George talks about fear and prejudice. He is subtly talking about his own life as a gay man (I don't believe it is ever revealed if he is openly gay) which goes over the heads of his students save for one, a young man who seems more interested in George himself than what he is saying. He attempts to talk to George after class, commenting that perhaps all he needs is a friend. Everything in this film lies beneath the surface, the flirtations and George's depression under his stoic exterior. That is part of the beauty of A Single Man.

This is a magnificent film by first time director Tom Ford (who makes some pretty awesome sunglasses by the way) who crafts this film with a certain rhythm that eases the viewer into George's painful life. The set designs and costumes are all sharp as all films set from the 60's seem to be (see Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy). The musical score is perfect as well. Of course the film is highlighted by Firth who just owns the role.

Grade: A

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