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A Single Man In Venice
claudiaeilcinema16 September 2009
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.
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Colin Firth
annieetalain13 September 2009
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!
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The Power Of Love
Lucille Risi18 September 2009
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.
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Isherwood, Ford and Firth, not necessarily in that order
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.
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Colin's George and Adrian
Andrew Orsini-Fallon15 November 2009
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.
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Cinema doesn't get much better than this
larry-41124 September 2009
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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This is a powerful movie revolving around a remarkable performance by Colin Firth
jonhamms24 January 2010
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.
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An Unbearable Portrait of Grief
Eumenides_010 March 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Colin Firth plays George Falconer, an English Literature teacher who wakes up ready to commit suicide. For the past eight months, George has been grieving the death of his lover, Jim, for the past 16 years. Unable to live without him anymore, George prepares his last day on Earth, which includes giving one last lesson to his class, on the subject of fear; buying bullets for his revolver; and at night having a final party with his best friend, Charley.

George just wants to get through the day and kill himself with dignity after the party. The movie basically follows him through the day as he makes his preparations, and the big question is, Is he really going to do it? The movie is not easy to watch. For one thing, it paints an unbearable portrait of grief. Colin Firth displays pain in his voice and face throughout most of the movie; even when he's smiling or seemingly content, there's in his eyes a vestige of sadness and weariness. Secondly, George is such an instantly likable character, it's painful to watch him going about his life knowing he wants to put an end to it. It's so easy to fall in love with him, that his pain becomes ours very quickly.

The simplicity of the movie's premise is made up by Firth's outstanding performance, and also by Julianne Moore's. She plays Charley, a woman he once dated, and the only person who knows he's homosexual. I don't know how long she is in the movie, perhaps 10 or 15 minutes, but in that short time she gives an amazing performance as a woman who doesn't have much to look for, like George, who doesn't have anyone else in her life, no dreams, no future, just memories of her good days with George.

Tom Ford also complements the movie by giving it a very distinctive visual style: pretty much every scene is unique in the way it looks and the way it is shot. One of my favorite examples is the way he portrays the cluster of emotions in George, visualizing his pain by showing imaginary scenes of him drowning. Not only is it a lovely metaphor, but also connects with a scene in the movie that is the closest thing to happiness George feels in it.

Although this was Tom Ford's debut movie, and he showed what a good filmmaker he can be, for me the revelation of this movie was Abel Korzeniowski, a Polish film composer who brings a unique sound of melancholy to the movie. How he was ignored by the Oscars is beyond me.

A lot of things in this movie were ignored by the Oscars this year, and yet I think this movie, being the intimate character study that it is, has better chances of outliving all other movies in competition in years to come. I hope so, because movies like this is the direction cinema needs to go in.
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A genuinely pleasant surprise
cllrdr-121 November 2009
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."
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Colin Firth and Julianne Moore shine (as usual) in Tom Ford's brilliant directorial debut
Benedict_Cumberbatch21 January 2010
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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A role tailor-made for Colin Firth
susannah-straughan-118 October 2009
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.
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Life and Its Suffering Do Go On
AlanSKaufman20 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Loneliness and loss frame the movie A Single Man. George's life partner Jim dies in a car accident. George has lost his world and contemplates suicide while everyone around him is fearful that their world will end, too, during the 1962 Cuban missile crisis.

George's flashbacks with Jim focus on their personalities, rather than on their sex, unlike so many other movies of today, where "making love" predominates "love". Yet the emphasis centers on their good times together - almost too good to be true. Herein lies a paradox, because if it really was so, then George had a better life than most of us, and frankly, it's difficult to feel too sorry for him. Get on with your life, buddy, and be thankful for what you had!

On the other hand, after an emotionally arousing but apparently nonsexual encounter with Kenny (here again the theme of love versus making love), George puts away his gun and burns his letters of goodbye, only to then suffer a fatal heart attack. In his dying moments he reunites with his beloved Jim, but we can only speculate whether it's merely reveries or authentic life after death. The credits roll at this point, so we need also wonder about Kenny's state of mind when he finds George's body. Life and its suffering do go on.

The film's advertising is slightly misleading in that George is shown lying next to Charley, his woman friend with whom he had a past relationship. Sure, this is designed to attract straight viewers, but anyone hungry for psychologically rather than sexually mature scenes between a man and woman will find it here.

We are born single and usually die alone. A Single Man dramatizes our loneliness in a powerful and literally haunting way. I seriously recommend watching this film alone to let it capture you in its rumination.
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Not in my top ten
pegd-121 January 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Possible spoiler. A grieving man, college professor, homosexual, has lost his long time lover/partner. His every day life since that fateful event is colored gray. Difficult film to critique...All in all, an uneven first(?)time direction by Tom Ford. My first thought was to fast forward, finally I just turned it off and waited until the next day to watch the last 45 minutes. My scoring is probably generous. I keep having to remind myself that this was the 60's era, long before the the gay revolution. I never understood the young student character, but the Spaniard character was a great cameo role. Hated, absolutely hated the ending... Why not cut while George is sitting on the edge of the bed with the George talking over the shot, brilliant. Enjoyed Firth in the classroom expounding about fear. I appreciate Firth as an actor more and more. He alone carries this poignant and flawed film from beginning to end.
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An overdose of sartorial elegance
loverboy_sg21 April 2010
Given that I have been watching a movie at the rate of one a week perhaps my expectations of this movie were too high. I left the cinema somewhat bemused and feeling that my expectations were not entirely met. I expected substance only to be confronted with mostly form. The latter was interesting and would appeal to many people but when stretched out over the entire length of the movie it tended to be a bit wearing.

Everything appeared prim and proper. The audience is given to believe that a university professor in the America of the 1960s is so well remunerated that he has the finest furnishings, the finest wardrobe (where sartorial elegance is constantly on display), and all the other good things that life can offer. This is what happens when there is too much of a stress on form and beauty -- it moves into the realm of make believe. Depending on one's point of view this either helps to shore-up a rather thin storyline or it makes its thinness even more apparent.

And where was the punchline? Perhaps it came in the abruptness of the ending.
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As Powerful As It Gets
aharmas12 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
When this film was announced, I knew it would look fantastic, but I wasn't ready for the intensity of this production, the incredible performance by Colin Firth, and certainly, one of the best films of the year. "A Single Man" takes place during a single day in what might be the last day in the life o a devastated human being.

Framed with superb art direction, a keen eye for accurate recreation of a period long gone, and one of the most haunting scores in recent history, we see how George is going through the motions on his way to what he perceives as the solution to his sad situation. From the moment he wakes up to another miserable day, he has finally found a purpose, and this time, he has something to look forward to. Still, as unpredictable as life is, a series of events occur to have him pause and reflect on whether he's making the right decision.

It is as if divine intervention might offer him an opportunity to reconsider, or is it just a couple of disguised attempts from other people who look for something less profound. These are interesting moments in the film when a hustler and a young man try to connect with George, and he certainly seems to appreciate their attempts, but he also seems to question the sincerity of their respective motives, or is it that he has already given up on trying to find happiness? There are other possible lifelines, and here comes Charly, a long time friend, who was at one time, romantically involved with George. It is also obvious that Charly never really got to know who George was, and at a critical moment, she seems to unaware of how desperate the situation might be. The scenes between George and Charly are incredibly sad, mostly because of her inability to read what is happening to her best friend. Yet the scenes pale in comparison to the everyday scenes where George's reveal that he wants to somehow overcome the pain and desperation he is going through. He looks at the eyes of strangers, yearning to see if he can capture some of the energy he now lacks. Ironically some of them find him attractive and want to connect, but it just might be too late for George.

The film is lovingly photographed, with Ford's masterful hand taking us through the potentially last moments of George's existence. Some people might argue that it is just too beautiful a picture to deliver its devastating message. Yet, why is it that metaphorically speaking, isn't it worse when people are unaware of the beauty surrounding them that makes the situation more pathetic? Firth can see the beauty, but he can longer enjoy it. His world might not be perfect, but he lives in an amazing place, has a great job, good friends, and yet his broken heart can't take it anymore.

The film will rank as one of the greatest romantic tragedies of all time, peppered with flashbacks of George's happier times, and showing the contrast of wasted possibilities, nothing will prepare the audience for the shocking ending, and it might lead to a never ending debate of whether the ending fits the rest of the film. I believe "A Single Man" is an amazing accomplishment, led by the best male performance of the year, one full of complexity and going beyond gimmicks, much like Vivien Leigh gave us a full character, with its contradictions and an incredible range, here comes Firth, showing how an another can give us a lifetime of experience in 90 minutes, with a smirk, or a sorrowful look that speaks more than a thousand words. He recalls Heath's great performance in "Brokeback Mountain", another character whose tortured plight touched us.
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Everyone should find "A Single Man"
scoobysnax765432114 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
I couldn't fit my whole review here, so please go to Lost In Reviews.com to find it and read more. Thank you.

Would you ever suspect that you would love a film by a fashion designer turned first time director? I didn't quite know what to expect from Tom Ford as he told his version of the book, A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood. I knew from the trailer that everyone was going to look their very best, but not much more until I sat down to watch it.

A Single Man is the story of George, an English professor in 1962 that has recently lost his partner of 16 years to a car accident. With the disapproving family not allowing him to attend the funeral, George is left to fester in his own pain for 8 months. When he wakes up from yet another painful night of memories, he decides to end his life and we spend the rest of the film watching George live his last day with moments of clarity.

We see George in almost every scene in the film and get little bits from other great actors here and there like Julianne Moore, who plays Charley, his neighbor and best friend, who he has been very close to for years. We spend the most time with her and she does not disappoint. Charley has come over to California from London as well as George and so they have a past. She spends her days passing the time with a bottle of gin or applying makeup, but when she has George over, she is also very attentive and a true friend while still getting drunk. Matthew Goode plays Jim, the deceased partner and lover, and we get to know him from George's flashbacks. He seems to be just perfect with George. They seem to literally complete each other. Every flashback of Jim will put a smile on your face.

Ginnifer Goodwin plays a nice neighbor and Lee Pace stops in as a co- worker at school. Both parts are very brief and I would have loved more of each. They are both great actors and even in the few scenes we see them in, we could see a history with George. I love Ginnifer in Big Love and she seemed just as warm to George in this film. Just with a kind hello or a smile in her eyes, you could see that they knew each other more than we get to see. I imagined that when her husband went to work, she would have him over for tea or something completely innocent like that. Lee Pace was in one of my favorite movies, The Fall and I was actually taken back by the utter lack of use of his character. He completely fit the look of the other characters as well and already has a sixties look. Kenny comes along, played by Nicholas Hoult, who you may remember from About a Boy with Hugh Grant. He is almost all grown up now and not afraid to approach his professor and ask him some very personal questions.

As George tries to get through the day so that he can get home and get things in order, many things get in the way, life. He begins to talk with his student Kenny in a way that might be more romantic rather than a professional relationship, and he spends a few hours with Charley over dinner and drinks reminiscing their lives apart. Much of this film is spent making the viewer feel like a fly on the wall in George's life. At points in the story, there is dead silence, only the sounds of a real life and we are immersed in his world. Other times in flashbacks, the pain is so much, that the noise is deafening. Ford shows us this by muting the most upsetting parts of his life and leaving us just the images to be burned into our minds.

This is not your every day, mainstream kind of film. This is a film directed to a certain audience and open minded story lovers. Ford chose to shoot this very artistically and seems to blend black and white scenes seamlessly with color scenes and then completely drain the color in front of your eyes. This is a film that will immerse your soul and use all of your senses to encompass the nature of the story. The symbolism is very faint at times, yet so prominent. A gay man in the sixties is an invisible man, yet he chooses to live in a glass house. The world outside of the memories he holds with Jim are very sterile and bland. Every scene is very gray and dull and seems lifeless. Until these moments of clarity come in and almost instantly, there will be a burst of color that everyone will appreciate.

At times, the cinematography was so great, I thought I might be witnessing a perfume commercial in Italy, in the way that Chanel No. 5 would entice you to purchase their product to become beautiful and stunning, Ford entices you to become visually intrigued with the characters. The colors and close ups of the opening scenes are where this is felt the most. There is a dream sequence that I am speaking of, specifically, that seems like it puts you in a daze. Sometimes, the shots were so tight on a conversation, I felt uncomfortable. I wished for a break from the reality and wanted to pull back, but in the end, I'm glad Ford kept my eyes glued to the scenes. In this way, it truly feels like seeing through the eyes of another. The way he looks at someone else may not be how you would see them, but it's refreshing to have a risky director give it all to show that to us.
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A glossy, muted 'Brokeback'
Chris Knipp8 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
As his directorial debut designer Tom Ford has made a highly accomplished, lushly -- a little too lushly -- beautiful film about a gay man struggling with tragedy -- the recent death of his lover. The story, from Christopher Isherwood's elegantly simple novel of the same name, set in 1962, concerns an Englishman living in Los Angeles, a professor of literature, who, in Ford's version, lives in unreal splendor. He is like a Fifties fantasy of tasteful bachelorhood. His house resembles a Frank Lloyd Wright masterpiece. He has an immaculately ordered wardrobe housed in a beautiful wooden dressing room. He drives a lean, classic Mercedes hardtop two-seater. Most elegant of all, he is a suave Colin Firth, whose understated suffering is tempered with good manners and restraint. Sweeping string music takes us back and forth between the present, as George Falconer (Firth) goes bravely through the day, and a halcyon past when he savored perfect moments with his lost companion of sixteen years, Jim (Matthew Goode, the movie 'Brideshead's' Charles Rider), a handsome young American met romantically outside a seaside bar wearing Navy whites, now dead in a car accident on a trip to visit family.

It's all too exquisite in its sweet sadness, and George's friend Charley (Julianne Moore), a boozy divorcée, also English, also lonely, lives in another kind of equally glamorous dream house, the glitzy overdecorated kind, a fitting showcase for a woman whose expensive clothes, beehive hair and elaborate makeup accompany a grand manner.

And though George is inconsolable, and his life now -- the story recounts only one day of it -- has been reduced to just going through the motions, he seems to be offered some choice opportunities to forget his troubles. He's being relentlessly stalked by a fresh-faced and pretty young male student called Kenny (Nicholas Holt, the BBC "Skins" star, like Goode actually English but playing American) who might be any gay teacher's fantasy. Coming out of a liquor store George encounters a to-die-for young Spaniard, Carlos (Jon Kortajarena, a former Ford model) a dreamy Mediterranean James Dean with a Castilian accent who's ready to jump into the Mercedes and into bed. These scenes are all in the novel, though one imagines George in casual tweeds and all the accouterments so splendidly on view are less significant in the book than what simply happens. Sometimes in this film the visuals completely take over.

Even George's suicide preparations are nice to look at, as well as genteel -- the way he's received politely by name at the bank when withdrawing valuables and arranges important papers and keys on the floor for people to find, leaving a handsome wad of cash for his irreplaceable Latina housekeeper. Charley is a great friend; her invitation to dinner tête-à-tête at her place causes George to put off self-immolation for a few hours and they share a discreet drunk together and have a wonderful laugh dancing the twist. This sequence is superbly done and Julianne Moore, an American playing a Brit, does some of her best acting ever.

If it feels overdone, on the other hand Ford's film is unquestionably cinematic in the way it drenches experience and memory in inter-cut images, and what could be more 1960 gay than remembering a beach scene with one's lover as if it had been photographed in black and white by the German Thirties sensualist Herbert List?

Even though it's a mite too gorgeous and glossy, this is an admirable and in some ways quite wonderful film, and that's because its emotions, however muted, seem real. Designer Tom Ford would not be expected to do things inelegantly. Gay man Tom Ford would not be expected to cast any but the most delicious young men. (Colin Firth isn't young, but his performance provides us with the richest depiction of an older gay man in film since John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday.) If Ford overdoes the poshness, he doesn't distort or satirize the period. Though this is an immaculate world -- even a pesky little boy with a toy pistol is perfectly turned out -- there is real, believable suffering.

George has his 'Brokeback' moment, a flashback scene of the time eight months earlier when he got the phone call informing him, belatedly and with the unspeakable buttoned-down cruelty of the straight world of that era, of his longtime lover's death. If Colin Firth doesn't get an Oscar nomination on the basis of this scene alone, but also for all the richly modulated moments throughout the film, Hollywood will have performed another of its 'Brokeback' travesties -- proving that it only pretends to be gay-friendly but when it comes to hard truths prefers to look away. Because there's a lot of hard truth behind the gloss, about the "invisible" minorities George speaks of to his literature class on Huxley's 'After Many a Summer Dies the Swan,' about how it is to grab private happiness from a world of meanness, and about hedonism. Isherwood knew whereof he spoke, and Tom Ford, working with David Scearce on the screenplay, gets those parts absolutely right.
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like a Poem !!!
bochritas27 December 2009
I knew nothing about Tom Ford and of course about the movie before I saw "A Single Man". It just happened that I was on my own and wanted to see a movie. As I was alone I made a decision to see this movie. Just like that. And I have to say - Thank You Tom Ford. It made my day, my week, my month !!!! This movie like a poem, like a cool breeze after a hot and humid day. I came out of the movie theater full of senses of satisfaction and joy. It just felt right, good, light and joyful in the same time. Visually and mentally this movie left me speechless. The scene where George is lecturing about "different kind" of minorities was just more than perfect. I love movies which "compels" us viewers to get "something" - the main point of a movie and more by ourselves. And this movie one of them. So much to think about, so much to enjoy by watching and so much to discuss after it.
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Unbelievably visually beautiful and utterly empty in every other respect.
HillstreetBunz27 June 2010
Tom Ford has has delivered a movie that is the epitome of style over substance. Pictures, performances, mood, music, colour, image, all beautifully chosen and cleverly assembled, combined to leave this viewer feeling that he (Tom) should only ever be left in charge of perfume commercials in future. It started well, a scene in which the lead character hears of the death of his lover and partner of many years, and of how he is set to be excluded from the funeral, was intense and deeply moving. But the movie fails to follow up on this early promise, preferring to show us how beautifully the once happy couple lived (only beautiful things around them, and each of them in the perfect position in their perfect home). For me, the truth is that this period piece only shows how much we Homo's owe to the fighting drag queens of the Stonewall riots, and how little to the comfortably off defeatists who despite the wherewithall, hid from society at large and did nothing to help themselves or other Gay people (log cabin Republicans feel free to recognise yourselves). I doubt if the positive reviews of this movie would have been garnered if the subject matter (which I presume was supposed to be the hidden grief of the Gay Colin Firth character, and the injustice of it) hadn't been 'Gay'. For me this 'hands off' mentality (from the critics) allowed Tom to get away with wallowing in shallowness (if that isn't an oxymoron)? Tom Ford was never a designer, rather a really great stylist, and he's no film-maker, rather a great ad-man.
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Moving, Intense and Captivating.
isabelle195516 January 2010
Warning: Spoilers
1962 wasn't a good time to be gay. When George Falconers's lover of sixteen years, Jim, is killed in an auto wreck, poor George isn't even invited to the funeral - even though they had been together longer than most married heterosexual couples can manage. He is definitely persona not grata around the parents and other family members, and he's told of the tragedy as an after thought. The Love that Dare Not Speak Its Name. Can't recall who wrote that, but it was certainly true of homosexuality in 1962, even in liberal LA. (This movie is set at about the same time as Brokeback Mountain by the way.) As polite society put it, George was a confirmed bachelor. As a neighbour less politely put it, George was light in his loafers.

Even George's neighbour, long time friend and one time lover Charlotte, can't quite believe that what George and Jim shared was real love, Wasn't it, she inquires, really just a substitute for the real thing? No replies George angrily, probably the only time we really see his teflon demeanour crack.

A Single Man is a superb movie. Moving, beautifully crafted, well written and fabulously well acted. The only reason I haven't given it ten is because the ending is perhaps just a little too 'pat'. Fashion designer Tom Ford can feel justifiably proud of his debut as a film director. The movie is based on a Christopher Isherwood story and written for the screen by Ford himself and David Scearce. Every scene is beautifully constructed, perfectly lit and the design is, as one might imagine of someone with Ford's artistic eye, unimpeachable. Every detail of early 1960s life is here, from the interiors to the attitudes.

When the movie opens, Jim has been dead eight months and George cannot come to terms with the loss. Every day it's agony to wake up, every day just has to be gotten through. George, a college lecturer and an ex-pat Brit, has lost his soul mate, his life, his love, but cannot even express that loss openly at a time when homosexuals were still persecuted. He is invisible and his grief doesn't exist to the world, except for Charlotte (Charley), neighbour and fellow Brit, who sympathises and yet still yearns for George in a naive way, a feeling still lodged in the recesses of her under-used brain that all would be right with the world if they could only get together. Julianne Moore is perfect as Charley, a heavy drinking and smoking, rich, divorced fashionista with no proper job and way too much time on her hands, as clever women so often had, in those pre-feminist days.

The story follows George through the day he has chosen to end it all. Suicide will end his pain. He methodically puts his affairs in order, leaving everything neat and tidy, right down to the clothes for his funeral, the insurance policies neatly laid out on his table, last compliments paid to his staff and co-workers. He buys bullets for his old gun, and, in a scene infused with black humour, tries to decide how best to shoot himself so as to leave the least mess for his house cleaner. But he can't quite get it right, so goes off to the liquor store to buy a bottle of whiskey and while he is there, meets one of his students, Kenny, himself struggling to come to terms with his sexuality. A series of people reach out to George in small acts of kindness throughout his day, and the movie turns on whether or not these small acts will be enough to convince George to go on with life, or whether he will still pull the trigger.

It may sound like a rather gloomy subject, but A Single Man is life affirming, and moving, and an excellent study in bereavement. Colin Firth gives the performance of a lifetime, beautifully contained and you have to feel he may have finally have shaken off the ghost of Mr Darcy and his Thinking Girl's Crumpet tag forever. He is a much better actor than he is usually given credit for and should be a bigger star than he currently is. I would not be surprised to see both Firth and Moore nominated on the strength of these performances.

This is obviously subject matter close to the heart of Tom Ford. It will be interesting to see what he comes up with next time.
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A Boring Man.
Matthew Young8 July 2010
George is an English professor who has recently lost his longtime boyfriend in a car crash and is having trouble dealing with not only the loss, but his extremely lonely life.

A Single Man is an extremely overrated movie. It consists of one boring scene after another of George just talking to someone about something irrelevant and uninteresting. Intersperced between these are flashbacks of his life with his deceased lover in which they, you guessed it, talk. The visuals can be impressive at times and Tom Ford's use of altering the colors to emphasize scenes is the only thing I can really commend about A Single Man.

Apparently George is a guy magnet as well because everywhere he goes he meets an overly attractive and absurdly articulate gay man. Every single person in the movie appears to be a poet who has nuggets of wisdom and life lessons to impart. George is an English professor, so that makes since but there all plenty of dumb people walking around who aren't going to shake the foundations of your beliefs with one conversation.

Also, A Single Man continues the annoying Hollywood trend of making homosexual main characters that have no other characteristics aside from their sexuality. All the conflict, events, and many of the characters are simply byproducts of the fact that Colin Firth is gay. I understand that gay people have to deal with persecution and I could never fully understand what they go through, but it's not like every minute of their lives is devoted to the fact that they're gay.

I also believe that directors/writers do this just to draw attention to their movies. If Colin Firth were straight in this movie it wouldn't have received nearly as much critical acclaim and would have been relatively forgotten.
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Clichéd and empty, but looks pretty
srstolz21 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This movie is like its director's mainstay, fashion: looks great but mainly it recycles what has come before. Mr Ford has got his production and lighting DOWN. The thing could be an ad for some kind of 1950s Disney retro community, or a set piece in one of those GQ spreads where they predict the next retro trend (lounge, anyone?) into which they throw a few insouciant models in amped-up thrift threads. And the polluted sunset skies of L.A. are so juicy I wanted to take a big old bite!

Other than that, and other than solid performances from Firth, Moore etc, this film is a mass of clichés. Man has epiphany after life-changing moment? Check. Early 1960s repressive? Check. Crude connections between conveniently-playing news clips and narrator's interior life? Check. Sexual outlaws drinking too much? Check. Older lonely person has mind-transforming moment with young sexpot? Check. For this kind of thing, American Beauty did a much better (and funnier) job.

This is the sort of film you would show to a high-school class: its issues are crude and simply presented, its actors look great, it's got a few good lines, but ultimately there's not much there to think about.
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A film about attachment and sadness of loss.
Felix Yaroshevsky17 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
This is a very chaste presentation of the essence of attachment. The gender of the leading characters matters, but it is not the main issue. Sixteen years of love, intimacy, and fusion of two soul mates. It is believed by some that when one swan dies the other flies very high and plunges to its death. If it's true that the pair of swans can't outlive one another, then this story is about that.

As far as the "gay theme", this film has made it possible to de-sexualize the theme and to further the insight which was presented in "Milk" to a higher plane.

Firth plays impeccably. Only the scene with the sleeping bag was slightly and unfittingly comical and somewhat distracting.

The main emotional experience for me was a profound sadness. The nostalgia for a perfect match of the mother and the child must be familiar to all of us. Exactly this instinct made the people and the dogs resonate with George's death-bound drive. The more fortunate of us encounter another person, whom we feel such a bliss of joining with; and the potential tragedy of loss.

I'd be very surprised if Colin Firth doesn't win for "Best Actor" in all the awards there are for 2009.
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We Have Plenty to Fear With this Film-A Single Man **
edwagreen25 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Brooding tale of a professor from England teaching in Los Angeles who is mourning the death of his partner in a car accident.

Everyone is telling Colin Firth that he doesn't look well and that he should watch himself. The film centers on one weekend after class. For someone contemplating suicide, Firth alternates via flashbacks with his male lover and meeting a South American hunk at a parking lot.

On Friday afternoon, he lectures his class on Aldous Huxley and fear. I was ready for a Franklin Roosevelt lecture on having nothing to fear but fear itself.

In her brief appearance on screen, Julianne Moore is effective as a lady friend of Firth's. With an authentic British accent, she laments the fact that her husband has left her.

The problem with brooding films is that they lack depth and to be perfectly honest, they become quite boring.

How many college professors have a student over for drinks and a swim? For sure, for Firth and this film, this was certainly a weekend of reawakening and yet in the end, it was a lost weekend.
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Colin Firth carries this very slight film
athenamuses11 January 2011
Warning: Spoilers
Although this film is beautifully shot, there is not much beneath the surface aside from Colin Firth's honest, no frills performance. This wonderful actor somehow manages to get through a line like, "We're born alone and we die alone," and make it sound interesting. Supposedly the story takes place during the Cuban Missile Crisis, to which nobody seems to be paying any attention. I was a young child then, and the entire country believed that we were on the brink of World War III. Nobody left their television or radio. People were out on the streets talking, crying, praying. Did Tom Ford even bother to crack a history book and do even 10 minutes worth of research? Everything in this film is background for the main character's mood. It's one of the most solipsistic films I've ever seen. It's a serious subject about a character named George, a gay man living in 1960s Los Angeles, whose lover dies tragically in a car accident. George is not allowed to go to the funeral because he is not a member of the family, and one wonders if his sense of loss would be less acute had he been allowed to mourn in public. But that theme is never explored. Instead what we get is a series of aborted pickups with gay models (at least that's how they appear), a ridiculous classroom lecture from George on the "all we have to fear is fear itself" theme, which I believe has been examined by far more interesting and deeper philosophers, and a frustrating evening with George and his best friend (Julianne Moore). She too, knows how to give gravitas to ridiculous dialogue. A disappointing movie, frosted over with "meaningful" silence, and aesthetic window dressing.
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