It's November 30, 1962. Native Brit George Falconer, an English professor at a Los Angeles area college, is finding it difficult to cope with life. Jim, his personal partner of sixteen years, died in a car accident eight months earlier when he was visiting with family. Jim's family were not going to tell George of the death or accident, let alone allow him to attend the funeral. This day, George has decided to get his affairs in order before he will commit suicide that evening. As he routinely and fastidiously prepares for the suicide and post suicide, George reminisces about his life with Jim. But George spends this day with various people, who see a man sadder than usual and who affect his own thoughts about what he is going to do. Those people include Carlos, a Spanish immigrant/aspiring actor/gigolo recently arrived in Los Angeles; Charley, his best friend who he knew from England, she who is a drama queen of a woman who romantically desires her best friend despite his sexual ... Written by
I attended the North American Premiere of "A Single Man" at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival. This is the first foray into film for esteemed fashion designer Tom Ford, directing from his own script based on the Christopher Isherwood novel. In a word, "A Single Man" is a triumph.
It is easily one of the most Oscar-deserving films of the year. Colin Firth's performance screams "Best Actor" (which he did win at the Venice Film Festival), Julianne Moore is exquisite, and Nicholas Hoult (About a Boy, Skins) is on his way to stardom. I was simply awestruck.
The curtain rises on a despondent George (Firth) having lost his longtime partner. Sapped of energy and will, he struggles to wake each day and function as the brilliant college professor he's expected to be. Few notice the change in him, but one student sees George as a magnet pulling him forward to a place even he doesn't understand. Kenny (Hoult) seems to glow like an angel in George's dark world and, yet, is a puzzle and presents a challenge which he doesn't necessarily want to confront at this stage in his life. As is his custom, he turns to Charlotte (Moore) for a warm shoulder but the temperature drops amidst the chill surrounding George's bleak existence.
Everything about this film -- the look, colors, pacing, shots, composition, cinematography, costumes, soundtrack -- says that an extraordinary amount of love and care went into it. Special mention to director of photography Eduard Grau and editor Joan Sobel for their keen abilities to work lockstep with Ford in projecting his vision onto the screen. Abel Korzeniowski's score is haunting and moving. Despite his design genius, Ford was generous enough to entrust costume designer Arianne Phillips with the freedom to work unencumbered. Production designer Dan Bishop, with art direction by Ian Phillips and set decorator Amy Wells, created two worlds -- a cold, stark one in which George sees only hopelessness, and another warm, colorful one in which he has hope.
What stays with the viewer, though, is the enigmatic friendship between George and Kenny. Nicholas Hoult is absolutely mesmerizing in this. The way Ford shot him made people gasp. He's lit, framed, and shot like an Adonis. Of course, that's the idea here. This will definitely be a break out role for the 19-year-old. The camera loves him, and it's a pretty daring performance.
Most of all, this is a tour de force for Firth and a stunning achievement which is destined to be a highlight of his distinguished career. The range of emotions and the extent to which his character must convey them through his eyes and facial expressions, with the copious use of long takes without dialogue, left me wide-eyed with wonder.
This is the stuff of great movies. They don't get much better than this.
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