A Single Man (2009)

Renounced fashion designer that revitalized the Gucci brand name, Tom Ford is parlaying his expertise to the big screen with his feature film debut, A Single Man based on the novel of same name by Christopher Ishwerwood.  I have been looking forward for this movie when the film received glowing reviews when it was screened at the Toronto Film Festival. The Weinstein Company picked it up and I eagerly anticipated this movie for when it came out. I went to the first matinee screening today. This movie is a sight to behold that will connect with anybody that has ever lost love.

Colin Firth gives a masterfully understated performance as George Falconer, an aging English professor that is contemplating suicide. He lives a solitary existence when his partner of sixteen years, Jim (Matthew Goode) suddenly died of car crash eight months earlier. Without the love of his life there with him, George’s life is filled with uncomfortable silences.

Friday, November 30, 1962 is the day that we focus on. George wakes up to put on his perfectly tailored suit to create the façade of a normal man in society. It is like his suit of armor. He longingly stares out in space at the moments of his former life with Jim that comes in flashbacks. The thought of death in his mind lingers as he looks at his neighbors, the Strucks (Teddy Sears, Ginnifer Goodwin, Ryan Simpkins, Paul Butler, Aaron Sanders) living the “American dream.”

George’s childhood friend/next-door neighbor from London, Charley (Julianne Moore) constantly bothers him with her ringing him before he goes to work. She is drunk, which is typical for her. As George goes about his day, he starts to get his affairs in order when he does the deed later on that night.

In his class, he speaks to his students about fear. The setting takes places during the Cuban Missile Crisis where some Americans like George’s colleague, Grant (Lee Pace) fears the Russians are coming. He makes a case that fear is everywhere. Being a gay man in the 60s, you have be discreet. Be careful about being found out.

After class, one of his wide-eyed students approaches George, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) with his fuzzy white sweater and his deep blue eyes. He asks his professor about how he taught the lesson. George is little annoyed the probing questions that Kenny is asking.

George’s ultimate goal is to have his affairs in order. That everyone in his life is cared for before he dies.

First of all, this movie is simply gorgeous with the stylized hues of the blacks and whites. The film felt authentic with the drab colors saturating the screen. The costumes were spectacular and it makes you wonder how Charley would fix herself flawlessly when she is half in the bag. The biggest highlight of the film is the score by Abel Korzeniowski. The way the music swells and interweaves in and out of the scenes were so good.

Some people would be put off by the overt homosexuality displayed in the movie. You should know what you are getting before putting your ten dollars down. I heard about bunch of heavy sighs with the long bouts of silence. It’s supposed to make you uncomfortable, to make you feel like George who no longer wants to exist in the world.

I did have a problem with the extreme close-ups of lips, eyes, hair, or flowers. I understand that when someone is on the brink that they would see the world in different way, but it was a little bit of overkill. Nicholas Hoult’s performance was a bit annoying. Researching this movie, he was cast a couple of days before the movie was supposed to start. It shows. I thought that he was wooden. I loved him in About a Boy, but this was not his best work.

Judgment: This movie will give you an eye-gasm. It’s so beautiful.

Rating: ****1/2


The one part of the movie that I thought was masterful was the ending of the film when George was plagued with chest pains. When he sees a sleeping Kenny on his couch with his gun, he doesn’t want to die. He was content for the first time in eight months, then he suffers a heart attack and dies.

The way that I read that sequence was that George was slowly dying every day that passes without Jim at his side. He died of a broken heart ultimately. That is so sad.

At least, he didn’t die by shooting himself or getting bashed by some assholes. Thank God for that.

About Branden

Branden: I am just your average movie nut that reviews films. Gives his take on pop culture and Hollywood happenings. Dreams to have his own thriving website and make a living doing what he is passionate about.

Posted on January 15, 2010, in 2009, Academy Award Nominee, Drama, GLBT, Independent and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 8 Comments.

  1. I am literally hearing nothing but greatness about this movie. It can be mildly frustrating that I don’t make it to a lot of the big screen showings. Ok, it’s incredibly frustrating. Boo!

    Great review.

    • The movie was playing at one theater in town. The Landmark near downtown. I wish that the Oscar caliber movies would have a wider release.

      I hope you see it soon, Heather. It very good.

  2. Just reviewed this one myself and I’m right there with you, what a phenomenal movie that isn’t going to get the credit it deserves. What a shame. Good review, man.

    • I think with all the “Avatar”s and “Invictus”s out there, this film is not getting enough credit because of the bias of a fashion desinger making his feature film debut and it is very good. I don’t understand it. Judge the movie, not the director’s past.

  3. mcarteratthemovies

    I finally saw this and now I can come back and comment! You say the movie will give you an “eyegasm” — GREAT word, by the by — and you’re right. My complaint with the look of the film is that it’s a little too perfect. Where are all the homely people? I know this is L.A., but surely there’s an average-looking Joe SOMEWHERE.

    I have no complaints about Colin Firth, however, who is The Man. I didn’t think I could see any performance this year that would convince me anyone other than Jeff Bridges deserved the Oscar. “A Single Man” did because Firth just ripped my heart right in half. What a powerful actor. Here’s to hoping this role gets him deeper, richer parts like George Falconer in the future.

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