A Single Man review

A Single Man

A guy in the early sixties loses his gay lover in a car crash and gets really depressed. The film follows a day when he has made a decision to shoot himself and he is putting his affairs in order. In case you think that’s a spoiler – the film starts with him remembering the death of his lover, waking up depressed, then getting a gun. It’s pretty clear from the start what’s going on.

People who read this site regularly might be surprised that I might go and see this kind of film. There are no explosions or zombies or anything. But I’m a sensitive arty guy, ok? Look at the books I read (the classic ones). Plus my wife wanted to see it.

Colin Firth plays George. Brilliantly. I can see why so many are lauding him for his performance. At first he seems a bit anally retentive with perfectly folded suits and crisp sealed shirts for each day. His house is pristine and he seems respected at work. His one friend is Julianne Moore who plays a drunk, bored, divorcee. Also very well.

As the film progresses we see his character develop and become more real and believable. He has flaws and a personality that seems to get stronger and more likeable as things progress. From a stuffy professor he transforms into an interesting likeable guy and you find yourself growing increasingly sad as the story progresses. It is a well written story (a bit slow at times but not often), with superb acting and amazing visual direction.

It is this ‘amazing visual direction’ that ironically brings the film down slightly. It is too visually arresting. Too arty. It feels a bit like watching a perfume advertisement or a talented student video artist’s end of year work. I’m making it sound worse than it is but after a while it did feel a bit over the top. I was aware that the director Tom Ford was showing that George was admiring beauty and the details of life on his final day but there were too many shots of women’s eyes, or men’s chests, or close-ups of roses.

I should stress that it doesn’t mar the film too much and not everyone will feel the same way. Apparently Ford is a fashion designer, so I should have allowed for a bit of aesthetic pretension. Even if it felt slightly too much, that obviously implies that the majority of the film is nice to look at. And it is. Watch the trailer below and you’ll see what I mean (especially the close-ups).

This is a good film – there is no denying that. I won’t be rushing out and buying the blu-ray but if you like a character driven, superbly acted and well directed movie, it is worth checking out.

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