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|Index||238 reviews in total|
A startling surprise. Tom Ford's debut as a director tells, in exquisite images, a very personal story, based on a short story by Christopher Isherwood. What makes everything fly so high is a fantastic performance by Colin Firth. I've followed Colin Firth career from the very beginning "Tumbledown", "Another Country", "Apartment Zero" where he creates a character never seen on the screen before or since, "Pride and Prejudice" where he reinvented D'Arcy's character, "Fever Pitch" where he showed a new face in riveting tragicomic strokes. So I should have been prepared for something new and special and maybe I was but the effect his performance in "A Single Man" had on me was (is) totally unexpected. It changed my perception of things, it made me look inwards and think of things I had put aside. I can't wait to see it again. I saw the look of love and that look remains knocking in my mind as if to keep me awake and aware. Tom Ford takes enormous visual risks in the telling of his story. It may work for some, some others will certainly dismiss or ridicule. I, for one, stand up and applaud.
A stunning outing for Tom Ford. The images are, clearly, out of an aesthete's mind without being shallow, ever. I believe there is a dramatic reason behind every frame. Colin Firth, looking truly handsome, goes through a day of torment with remarkable civility. I felt involved and shaken and couldn't help but make mine his pain. The flashbacks with Matthew Goode are truly vivid and truthful. This is a step forward in explaining through images that love is love no matter who you are, where you come from or what your circumstances are. It could have been a man and a woman, the fact that it's a man and a man is almost irrelevant. We recognize the feel of it and Colin Firth's performance is the magic stroke that makes that not only possible but natural. It is a sensational debut for fashion star Tom Ford. True to himself an artist that promises great, wonderful things for the future. I can't wait.
Tom Ford's debut has an immediate effect and an after effect. We are taken immediately by the "preciousness" of the image. Limpid, exquisite and slightly detached. The after effect is a whole other story. Colin Firth's face comes to haunt you. His pain and his deep period of reflection has a powerful, contagious effect. Colin Firth creates a character that contains a doses of his D'Arcy of Pride and Prejudice and a pinch of his Adrian LeDuc of Apartment Zero but the rest is totally inedited. His middle age man that spends a day drowning in a memory that tortures him has a resonance that touches countless personal memories. Love without other implications, because love is all there is. I applauded until my hands hurt when I found out that Firth had won the Copa Volpi at the 2009 Venice Film Fest for this role. This was so richly deserved. I doubt I'll see a better performance this year. Bravo!
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
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.
Of all the films I saw at the 66 Venice Film Festival, 12 in all, "A Single Man" is the one that stayed with me. I must admit, it wasn't love at first sight. My first reaction was a sort of rebellion against, what I felt was "far too beautiful" and slightly cold. But now, days after, the mood and guts of the film come back to my mind as if asking me to see it again. I will, as soon as possible. Behind the apparent stillness of the film there is a torrent of emotions and Colin Firth is at the very center of it. A day of grieving for a man who lived his life within a perfectly color coordinated world, coordinated in every sense of the word until death comes unexpectedly to turn everything upside down. I couldn't help but remember another Firth creation "Apartment Zero" (1988) where the color coordination of that character was gray, zero and the hinting of color coming into his life turned his world upside down. I loved and adored that performance and "A Single Man" reminds me, not so much for its similarities but for its differences. It's actually forcing me to go out and search all of Colin Firth's work I've missed. I also believe that Tom Ford, a living fashion icon, is here to stay as a filmmaker.
I've seen "A Single Man" twice already at different screenings and I believe I will see it again and again. Yes, for me is one of those films. Thank you Tom Ford and thank you Colin Firth. I love Colin and my favorite performance of his dates back to 1989 "Apartment Zero". George Falconer, Colin's character in "A Single Man" seems to me the flip side of Adrian Leduc, Colin's character in "Apartment Zero". George has had a real life and grieves the death of his companion. Adrian Leduc never had a companion and his grief is based on his total inability to connect with people. George believes that human connection is at the center of everything and puts that thought into practice. Adrian worships James Dean, George doesn't think that much of James Dean, he actually says it. Adrian wears white shirts made of cheap material and he launders them himself. George wears impeccably cut white shirts that he has professionally laundered. They seem tiny details but they become overwhelming when you know both characters. George even hurts himself and wears a band aid just like Adrian during the last 15 minutes of "Apartment Zero" I love Colin Firth because he's an actor that can give you so much doing, seemingly, so little. It compel us to participate and include our own thoughts and feelings. The love of George for his lover is as pungent and real as anything I've ever seen on the screen. It is a cinematic triumph and as I'm writing about it I feel a sort of urge to see it again, just as it happened to me when I saw "Apartment Zero" for the first time. I felt then that Colin deserved an Oscar nomination for Adrian, he will get it for George. This is the first comment I ever wrote and it comes out of a profound need to share this emotion. When movies can do that, film lovers all over the world have real reason to celebrate and I'm celebrating.
I have never cried so quickly in a movie. Literally, I was ten minutes into the film and my eyes began welling up. It's a beautiful and gut-wrenching love story, with a surprising yet bittersweet ending. Yes, this film is not a "happy-feel-good" production, and, yes, you may very well leave the theatre pondering the validity of the relationships in your own life, but that's the point. When you get past the "artsy" cinematography, in essence, it is a story of love, loss and self-reliance that we call all relate to. This film is certainly not for those who enjoy the action and adrenaline packed blockbusters of the recent past. But if you are in the mood for a thought-provoking and dramatic plot-line, sprinkled with the brilliance of Colin Firth and his co-stars, and a rather large pinch of Tom Ford, you will not regret it.
With Tom Ford at the helm, the very least you'd expect from his
adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novel is a parade of gorgeous men
in well-cut suits. Certainly there's enough Kennedy-era period detail
here to satisfy the most ardent fan of Mad Men (and an uncredited voice
cameo from Jon Ham). But the meticulously edited trailer gives no hint
of the warmth and humour that underscore this potentially bleak
meditation on love and loss.
The action takes place over the course of just one day (and night) -- 30 November 1962 -- in the life of handsome, middle-aged college professor George (Colin Firth). Like his friend, neighbour and one-time lover Charley (Julianne Moore), George is an expat in LA. He has a good job and a well-appointed home in a picture-perfect suburban street, but since the death of his long-term lover Joe (Matthew Goode) a few months earlier, George has been going through the motions. Now today it appears that he is putting his affairs in order, with a view to ending it all.
I must confess that I never swooned over Colin Firth's Mr Darcy back in the 90s and I've found it increasingly hard to relate to the repressed, lovelorn and frankly lumpen Englishmen he often plays. But here he's a revelation. As George's day unfolds, a series of reveries -- erotic, nostalgic, humorous and sad -- reveal the man behind the immaculately suited exterior. Whether perched on the loo wryly observing his neighbours, lavishing praise on a bemused secretary, or enduring a discourse on bomb shelters from a colleague (Lee Pace), Firth shows a welcome lightness of touch. He's tender and tolerant as Moore's gin-sodden hostess berates him for his inability to be the (heterosexual) man she needs. And his obsessive-compulsive fumbling with a gun and a sleeping bag are hilarious.
Moore expertly conveys the fragility and hopelessness of a woman once married and once feted for her looks, who is now staring into the abyss through the bottom of a bottle of Tanqueray's. It reminded me of some of her best work -- in Safe, Boogie Nights and The Hours -- and made me wish she'd stop wasting her talent playing second fiddle to the likes of Nicolas Cage and Samuel L Jackson.
It's a film in which the camera restlessly prowls in search of physical perfection: in the well-tended gardens of George's neighbourhood; the piercing blue eyes of flirtatious student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult); and the chiselled looks of Goode's doomed lover. But the script, co-written by Ford and David Scearce, ensures that this never descends into pastiche or glossy melodrama.
I loved Isherwood's novel (it's a novel, not a short story as a previous poster claimed) ever since it appeared back in 1964, to scathing reviews. Gay love wasn't taken seriously back then. Stonewall was five years away. But Isherwood was always his own man. Over the years I've mentioned the book to gay filmmakers, several of whom knew it and liked it. But all were chary of adapting a stream-of-consciousness narrative to the screen. That Tom Ford (of all people) has taken it on and done so well by it is rather astonishing. Yes, being the Fashion God that he is the film looks lovely. But it isn't all "look." Ford really understands what Isherwood was driving at. And while casting an actor as great as Colin Firth is a logical production decision, knowing what to do with him requires real talent. And Ford has talent by the ton. Matthew Goode is lovely. Nicholas Hoult a real surprise -- especially if you know him only for "About a Boy." And Julianne Moore is perfect as always. So much better (and more important) than "Brokeback Mountain."
Tom Ford, you surprised me. I don't really follow the fashion world too
closely at all, so although I naturally knew his name, I wasn't
familiar with his creations. I haven't read the Christopher Isherwood
novel (yet), so Colin Firth and Julianne Moore were the ones who
actually got me excited for this project. And I wasn't disappointed
it actually exceeded all my expectations, and alongside Jane Campion's
"Bright Star" (which unfortunately is being almost completely
overlooked this awards season), it's the most poetic 2009 film I have
seen so far.
Firth, always elegant and fascinating, plays George Falconer, a British professor in 1960's Los Angeles trying to cope with the death of his long-term partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). It's been eight months since Jim's death, and George decided to end his life by the end of the day and it's this day we see in this admirable film. George spends time with his best friend Charley (the always wonderful Julianne Moore), with whom he had something in the past (and still has hopes of winning him over again), and now is an unhappy divorcée. A young pupil, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult, who has grown up a lot since "About a Boy" and "The Weather Man"), who clearly is infatuated with George, harasses him until he finally gives him the attention he craves. These two different encounters will be decisive for George. As sad as the overall tone and the theme of mourning can be, "A Single Man" is by no means depressing. Ford uses and abuses of "artsy", but very efficient and intriguing camera angles, and a classy score by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski. Eyes, lips are shown in evidence throughout the film, and naturally, the costumes are all superb.
George's long day's journey reminds me a lot of Virginia Woolf's classic "Mrs. Dalloway". Marleen Gorris was able to do a correct but somewhat cold adaptation of Woolf's novel in 1997 (scripted by Woolf scholar and talented actress Eileen Atkins, featuring the magnificent Vanessa Redgrave in the title role), but I thought she wasn't much to blame for the film's coldness since that's one of the most complex novels to be translated to the screen. After seeing "A Single Man", I even dare to say Tom Ford could do an interesting and very personal adaptation of "Mrs. Dalloway". Also, this is one of the sexiest films since Alfonso Cuaron's "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (2001) and Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" (2003), and Nicholas Hoult's incandescent presence has a lot to do with that. He gives an efficient, brave performance for an actor his age, and although I'm sure Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliot"), who was the first choice for the role, would've been terrific, Hoult doesn't disappoint. It's not every day we're given a film with such emotional intensity and exuberant sensuality, and "A Single Man" proves that Tom Ford is certainly a promising director, having given us not just a great first film, but one also one of the year's finest and most unusual creations. A film to be felt and celebrated, and I can't wait for the DVD - it's a keeper. 10/10.
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