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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"A single man" has echoes of the Italian and French Nouvelles Vagues
:it's more European than American.It depicts a long wandering of a man
,who after his partner's death ,cannot overcome the pain;no matter if
the man is gay :if he had lost his wife ,the tragedy would be the
same.It would be easier to find solace and comfort,had he been
straight, because ,in the early sixties ,homosexuality had to be kept
secret (see the funeral "reserved for the family")and the only person
who can help the professor is his old friend Charley ,a woman whose
life has"suddenly gone the waterspout" ,as Tennessee Williams 'Blanche
would say,Tennessee Williams whose spirit hangs over the movie.
This long wandering reminds me of Louis Malle's "Le Feu Follet" ("the fire within")which depicts the last day of a man who decided to take his own life ;there are also echoes of Antonioni's works of the early sixties,such as "La Notte" .Besides,London is ,for the hero and his female friend ,some kind of lost paradise:Charley knows that if she came back,nothing would be the same cause now she's getting old .Julianne Moore's hairdo resemble those of English stars of the mid-sixties ,Dusty Springfield or Julie Christie.
A movie made of looks and smiles and sadness ,with close shots of shirtless young men playing tennis,female lips,the extraordinary sequence with Janet Leigh's eyes in the background,the night swimming ,which,as REM would sing,"deserves a quiet night "(wish they had used the song for this sequence;but it was the early sixties and the members of the group were just born ).The scene of the young girl with her pet in a jar she called "Coliseum" sums up all the fear and hatred the straights feel for the gays .
Superlative performance by Colin Firth,with good support of Moore and the whole cast;it is nonetheless a very intellectual movie,which can possess considerable appeal for people who like works such as "hours" .
I have been looking forward to watching this film for almost one year
(since last year's Venice Festival), soon afterwards I became a little
bit apprehensive, too many lessons learned from precedent experience
have proved that the higher my expectation is, the higher possibility
of disappointment would occur. Luckily now I can get some relief since
I am standing firmly on the love side of this polarized film.
The story took place in a single day in 60's, a gay professor decided to commit suicide as his long-time partner died in a car accident, the content is rather thin even given the fact that the whole film only lasts 99 minutes, the whole keynote is gloomy, but it manages to blow my mind with a sharpened perspective of life and death, how to choose a path to consume our remaining days, the sentimental pathos is strong and powerful here, thankfully by a marvelous performance from Colin Firth, which is affecting and shows genuine nuance to perfect his role (for example the scenes where he gets to know the bad news by phone, a tour-de-force interpretation one could ever imagine). Colin's new film THE KING'S SPEECH seems to on its way to be the biggest award harvest in the coming Oscar, I am eager to see if this time Mr. Darcy could finally get his due Oscar (actually I should shut myself up as I haven't seen CRAZY HEART yet).
As for my goddess Moore, she ushers a difficult supporting role within her limited screen time, which potentially manifests her character's both repulsive and sympathetic two-sides. By the way, it is a truly supporting role (I heard Maggie Gyllenhaal should be lead in CRAZY HEART, shut up again), but this year, please push Moore in lead (THE KIDS ARE ALL RIGHT), it will be ridiculous if she goes supporting, there have been too many ludicrous examples in Oscar before (to name a few, Jamie Foxx in COLLATERAL, Catherine Zeta-Jones in CHICAGO, Jake Gyllenhaal in BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN).
Words get around, I am not a fashion pursuer, so I had no idea of Tom Ford's background before he made his debut film (I feel so ashamed of myself, that's why I bought a copy of MILK today, make a frantic last-minute effort to be trendy and chic). But the stunning shots (over-saturated color) and overflowing slow-motions do imitate a tone of Wang Kai-Wei. As a matter of fact, the gay theme only serves as a set piece to attract more attention, if the story changes into A SINGLE WOMAN, I think it is also feasible but less tasty. However as his feature debut, Tom Ford has done an excellent job to make a short novel into a charming while touching film prose, though it can not cater for all audience's criterion, but who would expect a gay-themed film could do so!
Based on a novel written by Christopher Isherwood, this is a sad but beautiful film that requires attention and patience during slower moments but is hugely fulfilling. It addresses the power of love, the pain of loss, the burden of grief, joy of life and the search for lost youth with insight and compassion. Nicholas Hoult played a very credible mirroring of Firth's character as he would have been in his youth. I loved the the use of color and formal composition techniques and thought them to be more than just surface trimming. If I had any complaint about "A Single Man" it would be the mawkish dream sequences at the very beginning and the end otherwise it was gorgeously shot and with stellar performances by Firth and Moore and a beautiful score by Abel Korzeniowski who I must confess I never heard of before.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Tom Ford's elegiac tale of George Falconer, an aging professor
struggling with his lover Jim's death and life's meaning as he
contemplates suicide and reassesses his relationships with other people
and the world, is also a literary and dramatic marvel. However, its
real power is not in the internal monologue and character-driven dialog
of the movie, but in the cinematography and how life and memory
struggle in and out of focus for a depressed man too involved in his
grief to notice the real palpitations of death stirring inside of him.
George Falconer is lucky enough to be working over and coming to terms
with his own mortality on the day his body chooses to fail him, but the
audience gets the real message in the rhythmic modulations of
awareness, memory, and light.
A Single Man's slick (and floating) camera work is a serious and personalized reappropriation of techniques like Schindler's List and Pleasantville, but Ford wears his inspirations on his sleeve with a score right out of Vertigo and a direct (and obvious) allusion to Psycho. Nevertheless, the references are more literary than imitative, it's just a little difficult to break away Ford's style from his character building, which is why the movie ultimately is more engaging in its poetics than its drama. The characters' relationships have, in a sense, hit their high points before the movie has started, except in the case of the young student who finds himself attracted by George's final rant against fear in society. This technique somewhat reflects the audience's own position outside of the historical drama of the time, where the Cold War that George's life is set in has already hit its resolution, even though more exploration into the nature of the conflict is necessary. Thus, it's a somewhat ironic movie when the young student reflects, "You always seem to be about the past, whereas I have no patience for it." --PolarisDiB
Colin Firth heads a superb cast in this delightful motion picture drama
based upon the sensitive poignant Christopher Isherwood novel 'A Single
Man'. An exquisitely created cinematic debut from director Tom Ford
that floats effortlessly along an agonisingly sorrowful tale of love,
life and death.
Wonderfully shot in just three weeks this film is achingly beautiful film takes place on 30th November 1962 revolving around a day in the life of emotionally challenged English professor teaching at a Los Angeles college at a time of the Cuban missile crisis. The award winning Colin Firth takes up the lead role of George Falconer, a native Englishman, now residing under the Californian sun, who is finding the going a little tough. It has only been eight months since Jim, his beloved partner of sixteen years died in a terrible car accident. An event that still haunts George on a daily basis, even though he wasn't there at the time of the accident. The only reason Jim and George were not together at the time of the crash was that Jim was on his way to visit his horribly homophobic and stuffy family. Colin Firth shows his true ability as master craftsman of this acting business in a tear- making scene back at the time of the accident when Jim's family inform him of the accident, death and the fact that he is not welcome at the funeral. Mr Firth plays such rapid flux of emotions from concern to shock, pain, anger and total obliteration with just his eyes and face as few others have the ability and skill to even attempt, let alone triumph. All the way through the film, there is a delicate and gentle narration from Firth as George, which provides tender insights highlighting the story.
The film then follows the emotionally charged and surprisingly full last day in Georges life. There are so many moments of pure beauty that it would take a months worth of Sundays to list them all here, yet I've never seen such a film that held 100% of my attention 100% of the time.
There is even a brief little cameo appearance from Don Bachardy in one scene, Don was the long-time partner of Christopher Isherwood, and according to Tom Ford, was a great help during the writing of the screenplay. In the scene he's in, he wears Isherwood's lucky red socks!
It is a deeply moving drama, heavily accented with sorrow and depression, yet delicately light and compelling from start to finish. I am not always a fan of slipping into black and white to indicate the recollection of memories in movies, however the delicate and enchanting colour changes here are perfect and tell the story of emotion in visual beautifully. Such exquisite cinematography and intelligent scripting and interpretations helped ensure box office and critical success for this 2009 dramatic masterpiece of love and longing. The fact that this was Tom Ford's first outing as a director and he financed the entire film himself is incredible and amazing and he should be applauded and celebrated for creating something so utterly magical and compelling. The setting, sets, scenery, costumes and musical score are all wonderful aspects of a movie made with care, attention and I dare say a big dollop of love, so perfect are they all, either in isolation or together. I am trying to find fault with this film, but such a task is proving difficult, I will settle with the fact that it was not long enough and for me could have been eked out another ten minutes or so! Seriously, it is a faultless movie and whilst the influence it offers is still relatively limited due to its recent nature, I am sure it will be felt for years to come. It achieved an impressive total of £16 million approximately at the box office. I would also add that maybe this has set a bar in terms of quality that other serious mid-budget films will forever onward have to match to be considered truly great. Read more and find out where this film made it in the Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time book, search on Amazon for Top 50 Most Influential Gay Movies of All Time, or visit - http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007FU7HPO
A couple of minutes in from starting to watch 'A Single Man' directed
by tom Ford I knew it was a world class film. It had be hooked, its is
one of the most beautiful and sublime films I have seen to date. I
found out about it after talking to some of my college lecturers about
films that show hidden wonder, American beauty was one of them, the ice
storm was another and a single man was the last one. My only wish for
this film was that I watched it a lot sooner.
Its true to say I am not the biggest Colin Firth fan so my hopes were not very high at all for this film but this film has changed my view on him completely. Nicholas Hoult who is also in the film did an amazing job. He has really grown from that little boy in 'About a Boy' and Tony in 'Skins' I will not talk about the plot that much as anything I say may lower the true stranded of this film. It is best enjoyed with an open mind and a love of new age cinema.
This film has everything I wish my films would have it it. It is done to a fine art. The soundtrack took me right into the characters minds, the cinematography is so interesting and different to Hollywood films today. It really inspired me in the way I hope my future films will look. It was also clear that a lot of though went into the composition and the way each and every shot looked so well polished. Another aspect that really stood out for me that I normally look over was the use of colour and saturation. The way the vibrancy showed the mood and past to the present.
Watching this has shown me what is right about my FMP film but most importantly what is wrong with it. The way that the most important parts in Georges head is slowed down is perfect. Seeing this film had changed how my final out come will look. I now plan to make my film more personal then I had planed. I now want to show the same about of speed up footage to slowed down footage.
If you want to see the best that cinema has to offer then look no more. Watching this film has given my motivation the push it needed to get out there and make a film that people will remember!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I'm going to start saying that this film is easily on my top 10 of
all-time.The direction , the OST , the acting of Firth , Moore , Hoult
, the message(s) of the film , the minor characters ; everything fits
and works perfectly like a Swiss clockwork.
It's really touching to see the life that Mr. Falconer has , an omnipresent deep-silent pain haunting him , the hypocrisy of society margining him for being homosexual , his incapacity to form a family , etc.
I'm going to state that i'm an ABSOLUTELY cold person and rarely (if ever) touched by this kind of things , but this movie is special for various reasons:
1)First of all , you can practically touch Falconer's sorrow due to losing his partner , his constant struggle against the society and the world , and waking up and saying "Just get through this g***** day"...
2)Scenes showing clocks are omnipresent , adding the film a claustrophobic touch and making the end highly cathartic and touching.
3)The hypocrisy of neighbors and society in general , shows Falconer as a lonely , sad and depressed man , living a reality that tortures himself everyday.
4)The OST is a MASTERPIECE with all letters and in capitols! The score is the film made musical notes , it's just beautiful , sad , melancholic , deep , powerful , in a single word , a masterpiece. I'm going to put "George Waltz" in my funeral , for sure...
5)I cried on the end , and i don't cry since 4-5 years :)
Well , a 10/10 indeed & highly recommended!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
George is a 'single' man. He is middle-aged, punctilious in his
etiquette and decorum and lastly a moribund soul. Eight months after
the departure of his 16 year-long partner, he finds the essence of his
Every paraphernalia in his abode is redolent of the very many days and memories he shared with his effervescent and faithful partner Jim. The last resort George now seeks is suicide. Except that his last 24 hours are unexpectedly eventful, and in the due course incandesce the ephemeral yet consummate clarity about his perception.
Colin steers his character from gloomy and defeated to introspective and blooming. The finest moments are reserved for the first half though the entire product stirs the viewers' souls. There is a scene within the first fifteen minutes into the movie where the spectacled George gets to know about Jim's death from the latter's cousin. The director avoids any unnecessary maudlin and shoots the sequence adroitly. Jim's courteous cousin plainly tells the bad news and sympathizes with George but curtly adds that the funeral is only for the family. This was probably the turning point for George and I was shivering in my seat with vicarious melancholy towards George and anger, repulsion and contempt towards Jim's inconsiderate parents. And this maybe the reason George pictures the dead Jim with the overturned car and the snowy weather; he couldn't bid his final goodbyes to his partner. During the entire conversation, George's tone drops low, he takes off his glasses and his turned to stone when he hears the news. After the call, he sits for a while till tears naturally trickle down; his brain is taken over with grief, till he finally, in a state of delirium runs to Charlotte, who comforts him. The 5 minutes or so are so finely and powerfully utilized that the director and the actor deserve an applause. And this was pivotal for the movie, which if not executed well would've completely obliterated the impact felt later.
George wants a perfect day without much commotion. He wakes and freshens up, keeps his gun with him and attends his last lecture. Today seems unnatural for him as he takes more interest in his neighbors than usual. He begins looking at things of beauty in a way he hadn't looked before. In his college, he bursts out about minorities to his slightly stunned class. Colin is breathtaking as he wisely and consciously acts the scene, not sounding patronizing or too obvious for his students to doubt over his sexuality. One guy however is drawn towards him and in a charming conversation between them remarks that George sounded as if he lived in his past. George manages to excuse himself to fulfill what he had decided.
But committing suicide isn't a joke. If one has a reason to live, no matter how insignificant, he would be reluctant to actually execute the step. Ask me: I once in a fit of rage tried to suffocate myself with a pillow but gave up even before I felt any discomfort as I had many reasons to live. George has a humorous encounter with his gun, which refuses to shoot him (according to him). So George pretends to be 'interrupted' by a phone call and visits his friend from childhood, Charlotte (Julianne Moore). In another brilliant scene, Julianne, a divorcée who secretly loves him tries to allure him, deeming Jim a 'substitute' for her. Her being loose with words turns their relationship a bit sour, yet George advises her to start a new life in England, which he rejects. So its George advising Charlotte about something he isn't to let go.
In the penultimate scene, George, stalked by Kenny, confronts him only to be enlightened by his openness and care-freeness. Kenny shares his own views on life after which he asks George to do something absurd to prove that he isn't 'full of s**t', skinny dipping. In a dreamlike sequence, both take a dip and have the time of their lives. On reaching home, Kenny realizes about George's secret and tests it on the latter. When George realizes Kenny's intentions, he is obliged and has now a will to live. However, the looming heartache finally decides to take away his life, which completes the circle.
Colin creates George, a separate entity that is alive, breathing. What makes him outshine the rest of the fine cast is the ability to empathize with the psychology of a gay man without turning him into one of those ' gesture-loving, highly sugary, multi-color wardrobe owning men who talk as if their lower jaw is about to fall apart from the upper'. He wears a sweater in the film, and is quiescent, relaxed in his approach. Colin is spot-on in imitating the way certain androgynous or gay men laugh (in the scene with Julianne). His chemistry with Matthew is so natural and radiant, and that too in such a short screen time together, one feels they're actual lovers. He followed the principle of getting into the character, having a line of action, knowing exactly how to rise and fall to balance the ends and giving the audience the pleasure and pain of George. Was his inspiration Stanislavski by any chance? Matthew is competent, and really simple and elegant in his short role. Julianne was so flagrantly snubbed by many award shows, it's a shame. She is almost flawless as Charlotte, a divorcée who conveys her rebuff so sublimely, every moment measuring Colin, knowing he won't be hers till she blurts it out. Nicholas is daring, certainly a rising star if he just gives a little more control to his voice and personality to his character.
A single man is like a placid river, with ebbs and tides to balance the flow. When it enters the sea, one gets a complete movie. The ending is poignant, yet I really wanted George to live. Overall,, an overlooked gem.
I don't know how he does it, but Colin Firth's performance(s) in these 2 films is just awesome! In "A Single Man" he tells the story through minimal words, but his face, his emotions, expressions just say it all! I was mesmerized just watching the emotions he portrayed in this film. While I wouldn't give it a "10" overall, the acting - his, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult were so well done they captured the film for me. It's a bit disjointed to follow w/flashbacks, etc. but a well done film, and Firth's acting certainly deserved more awards. Let's hope he nabs a bunch for "The King's Speech" - best film of the year to my mind!!
Summary: Day in the life of a man who has just lost the love of his
Fascinating character study with a superb performance by Colin Firth thanks to a very well written script. It's dramatic but not too dark. All of the characters are well-rounded and have a hint of intrigue so you want to know what happens next. This film flew by for me.
Along with the vividly beautiful and unique cinematography that correlates to George's emotions, a great score keeps the mood mysterious and poignant. Really good filmmaking.
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