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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
One of the most moving films I have seen in a long time. The house is
an absolutely beautiful work of art. A real Frank Lloyd Wright wonder.
I would love to know where it was filmed. Colin Firth is engaging as
the lost love who can't cope with the world without his mate. Julianne
Moore is absolutely convincing as the woman at the bottom of a gin
bottle - without hope or future and no other place to go or be.
I walked out at the end feeling that I totally understood why this would have happened and how this could easily be the situation at the time and the place.
Tom Ford you are a genius. The staging, sets and clothing was absolutely spot on. It really captures the moment in the 60's uncomfortable and repressed. Emotionally engaging.
George is a university professor (Colin Firth). His lover is dead by
car accident. He loses the purpose of life, and he attempt to pistol
suicide. Tom Ford is a fashion designer that is at the forefront. He
has a lover of the same sex who live together for more than 20 years in
the same way. It is often called art movie at first glance, but unlike
other art movie. It is very simple and not difficult story.
This movie is colored beautifully. It's impressive , as a whole, has been colored beautiful and delicate depiction the story. Tone of screen, accessories and fashion were totally fashionable. Light and darkness of the heart are also well depicted. I think Tom Ford depict more beautiful male actors who appear in this movie from the point of view homosexual.
Fashion guru Tom Ford turned first-time director for this hypnotizing adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novel (which Ford penned with David Scearce) concerning a gay college professor in early-1960s Los Angeles who decides to kill himself after his lover perishes in a car crash. Ford warms the screen with color flourishes, allowing sequences to literally bloom, while leading man Colin Firth stuns with yet another consummate actor's performance. Firth, often expressing his character's inner feelings with only his eyes and a bashful smile, is sardonic, curt, bemused, angry that life is continuing all around him, and adamant to end his life--but how to do it? Ford's handling is well-composed and beautifully modulated, though the midsection with Firth and flirtatious socialite Julianne Moore doesn't really connect with the rest of the picture, and the penultimate scenes (a pick-up, a nude swim, and some conversation) aren't charged with any particular emotion. Nevertheless, the finale is an ironic heartbreaker, and Firth is quite wonderful to watch. *** from ****
I like drama. A comedy is good for a chuckle. And a musical is great
for a hummable tune. But what I really love is something to "sink my
teeth into." I like something that moves me, something that makes me
think (or feel), and something that plays upon my heartstrings. If that
movie happens to be sad, that's par for the course.
A Single Man is not just sad, it is STUPIFYINGLY sad. It ranks right up there in my book with Sophie's Choice in its sadness quotient.
The movie takes place in 1962, a much different time from our current "open" society and concerns George, a forty-something seemingly proper straight-laced college professor. Although I don't think the word is ever once spoken in the film, George is a homosexual who had been in a 16-year relationship with another man. When Jim dies in an auto accident, George is overcome by grief to the extent he feels like he's drowning, a recurring image in the film.
Charley (presumably short for Charlotte), played by Julianne Moore, is his only outlet. Charley and George were one-time lovers, or - it would probably be more accurate to say - sex partners. While Charley continues to hold a torch for George, George loves Charley, but only as a friend, in fact, his best friend. Upon learning of Jim's death in an impersonal phone call from a cousin who "feels he should know," and being shunned by Jim's family, it is to Charley that George rushes and there follows a scene of his crying on her shoulder that is so sad as to be painful to watch. Charley, bitterly divorced from another man, regrets that she and George never married and had a family of their own, and even speculates out loud to George that Jim was a "substitute" for something else in his life, which engenders an angry outburst from George. Even Charley simply does not understand.
There are two other unspokenly homosexual characters in the film with whom George dances around a dalliance, but nothing ever comes of them, as in both instances, neither one is able is "come out." The things that go unspoken in this film make even the viewer feel like he's ready to burst; pity then poor George.
Colin Firth is simply and utterly amazing in this role. He plays it as the epitome of repression. In fact, the mood of repression in the entire film is palpable. But one must remember this is 50 years ago, and although arguably relatively recent in our history, when one considers the various cultural and social revolutions that have taken place only SINCE that time, one can appreciate George's sensation of drowning and feeling like he can't breathe. Many of the cinematic shots are in close-up and Mr. Firth's controlled facial expressions have got to be seen to be believed. This is one of the best acted movies I've ever seen. Bravo, Mr. Firth!
George is so grief-stricken and bereft and lost, he contemplates suicide. I won't give the ending away, but this is a four-hankie movie. If you're looking for a happy ending, stay away.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This movie creates a feeling of involvement very early. The main character is special and you feel for him. Colin Firth plays George, a gay college professor who has been devastated by the tragic death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode). Isolated by his sexuality in a time before civil rights evolved to include the gay community, George cant even grieve for his lost love without the prejudice and condemnation of Jims family who don't want him at the funeral. Instead George turns to his soul mate Charley (Julianne Moore). Charley is a tragic but liberated woman of the sixties who loves George and clings to the relationship she once had with him. While George plans his own demise he interacts with friends and strangers, students and ex lovers while maintaining a tangible lonesomeness. The natural forces of life and death continue and conclude the story exposing the fragility and fleeting beauty of life and love.
A man with a broken heart because of the loss of a loved companion
leads to a broken man at the depths of his depression.
This beautiful looking film is not always a benefit for this look at the surrender to despair. Aloof and alluring he goes about his last day before his plan to commit suicide with an eye for the world he is about to depart.
It's as though he is taking one last look at the cocoon of confinement that has been his prison without passion since his lover left, not only this life, but him.
Self-pity is not very attractive to those watching but is the attraction of this study of a very personal way of dealing with death and abandonment.
The pacing is pragmatic for the subject matter and it all wants to seem truly sympathetic but fails to be empathetic, and not because the man is gay. He just isn't very interesting or inviting and for that matter neither is anyone else in this film. Not one character emerges as nothing more than softly spoken surrogates for a self-conscious Director and screenwriter and an even more self-involved character.
Tom Ford's directorial debut A Single Man, based on the 1964
Christopher Isherwood novel, is a thing of beauty. From a lingering
shot of a perfectly mascaraed eyelash to a languorous close-up of full,
plump lips dragging protractedly on a cigarette, Eros makes his
presence felt everywhere.
It's not just the human form itself that is so enchanting and enchanted here. Objects, too, whether a car dashboard or man's suit, ooze sex appeal. Unfortunately, it is this aspiration to the sublime, this self-consciously artful approach, not to mention the too- mentionable fact that Ford is a fashion designer, that has led some critics to wonder if there's too much surface in this movie. A Single Man looks wonderful, they say, but it glosses its content, it loses its depth. Even the excellent Colin Firth slim to the point of ripped looks just too damn good.
Which is strange, you'd think, given the depressed subject matter. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, A Single Man is a day in the life of aging English professor George Falconer (Colin Firth), who's struggling to come to terms with the death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode) in a car crash. It is ostensibly a portrait of a grieving man, one whose mourning for the man he loves and has now lost is stunted and repressed. After all, you can't mourn for a love which, even in the early 1960s, still dare not speak its name. He wasn't even invited to the funeral.
But while A Single Man is a sometimes moving study of living after the end of one's reason for living, its scope is broader. The Western world, too, seems at its end. In the background, the Cuban missile crisis is playing itself out, a symbol, it seems, of a world poised on the edge of self-annihilation. But the sense of exhaustion, the sense of a world consuming itself, goes deeper. While there might well be a postwar boom, with cars and TVs and dental products available everywhere, there is little in the way of euphoria. Rather there is a sense that something is being lost, that the best which has been thought and said in the world, the Great Tradition, the liberal arts, is being lost to the unfeeling, virtueless world of commerce and consumerism.
Not for nothing is our single man here a professor of English, a voice of that disappearing world of high culture. Assessing his current students, Falconer notes that they 'aspire to nothing more than a corporate job' and raising families of 'Coke-drinking, TV-watching children'.
If Falconer himself is struggling to see a reason for going on, for living after the end, A Single Man is also struggling to see much future for humanity as a whole. In the portentous words of Kenny, Falconer's flirty, arch student, 'Death is the future'.
But if the death drive in a decadent early 60s California seems to be in the ascendance in A Single Man a fact rather unsubtly emphasised by the inclusion in Ford's screenplay of the question of whether Falconer will shoot himself it also explains why the film seems so concerned with surfaces, with enchanting the appearance of things. To death, to Thanatos, A Single Man counterposes life, Eros. He might be stranded in a dying, muffled world, but beauty is constantly arresting and taking possession of Falconer. While a colleague harangues him about nuclear war, Falconer's attention is caught by two men playing tennis, their naked chests and stomachs glistening in the autumnal heat; while a secretary is informing him that someone has asked for his address, Falconer is drawn to her eyes, her mouth, her hair. A Single Man sublimates. It gives to the everyday an allure, a beauty which, just occasionally, will take Falconer away from his dream of death.
But only occasionally. Because it can't stop time. Throughout A Single Man the loudly ticking clock is a symbol of the harsh, unsentimental, all-too-rationalising modern world. It is also the herald of the inevitable. Little wonder that in A Single Man, that which is not a product of human thought and society, that which is not rational namely, feeling and sentiment is idealised. 'Sometimes I have moments of absolute clarity', remarks Falconer. 'I can feel, rather than think; the world feels so fresh. It's as though it just came into existence.' The desire to stop time, to have the 'now' forever is as suicidally death-laden as the world that is exhausting culture, killing feeling. But in A Single Man this decadent posture becomes an ideology. It urges a plunge literally so, given the underwater body imagery into a world of pure sensation, of pure, thoughtless physicality. In other words, an immersion in surfaces.
A Single Man bears an uncanny resemblance to Thomas Mann's Death in Venice. But Mann's novella was an ironic portrait of art in the era of its impossibility. Things were too easily disenchanted; there was no elevated meaning to be embodied in art, religious or otherwise. Instead, beauty was too easily reducible to sexuality, the sublime to sublimated homosexuality. A Single Man, however, refuses to break the spell; it refuses to yield to the temptation to reveal the sex-and-sweat root of its aesthetic for all the homosexual longing, there is no sex in this vision.
Instead, the vision, despite its subject matter, is almost uplifting, almost affirmative there is life after the end, it seems to say. 'I had a hunch you were a romantic', Kenny tells Falconer. And so he must remain in this beautifully superficial film.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
If ever there has been a film that is all about one man, this is it.
Colin Firth gives a performance that tears strips off of The Kings
Speech and for which I feel he has not been given nearly as much
A starting point: This is not a cheerful film, so do not expect a happy ending!
My first thoughts about the substance of the film, its direction, production and performances, are with the use of colour. As George goes through his day there are flashes of brightness that break through the dull colourings of the rest of the film. These reflect those moments in the day where George is connecting with humanity and with the world, where the pits of his depression are forgotten if only for a moment. And once these fleeting moments are over the colour drains back to the subdued tones that reflect the characters inner pain and turmoil. I loved this; it takes you on the journey with George and adds a degree of empathy that would otherwise be missing. This is not someone who is mad at the world, he can still recognise beauty exists.
Secondly, the performance of Colin Firth is exceptional. His expressions and delivery make it impossible not to feel sympathy for George. There is never any pity and this is important as it shows the strength of the character and his convictions. The path he has chosen is one that he feels he has no option but to follow. There are no tears, no tantrums and no drama. It is (I imagine but hope never to know) as feeling like that should be/is.
Thirdly is the writing. I think minimalistic would be the right description. There are no lengthy dialouges, no explanations as to why he is doing what he is doing and no heartfelt albeit cryptic farewells. We know and understand from his actions and the flashbacks we are shown why he has ended up here, there is no over egging. This goes back to the way Firth uses his expressions to tell a thousand words. There are few others who would have been able to fit the part so well.
Having said that there were issues. I was not impressed by the supporting cast. I am sure Nicholas Hoult has a long career ahead of him but I just didn't like him in this. I could not understand his characters motivations and whether he was being genuine/creepy/manipulative. There seemed to be a lack of emotion in the performance, not helped by having to acquire an American accent. Likewise, Julianne Moore (who I have always enjoyed watching) was below par in her performance as well. The chemistry was not there and, again, her English accent was less than impressive.
On the whole, however, this is a film that will move you. It is beautiful with a tour de force central performance. Without giving too much away, there is positivity here as well. Redemption can come in many forms, sometimes when you least expect it. Which makes the final scene even more crushing.
It's your last day. What would you do? For professor George Falconer
the answer is easy: retrieving important documents, closing bank
accounts, writing letters to his friends as well as his last will. With
unflinching actions and melancholic gestures, Colin Firth creates a
most enthralling character, imbued by the sheer emotion of loss and yet
adjusted to the repressed feelings he considers necessary to suppress
even in his last day. After losing his partner and lover, there is no
deterrence in his decision: he will kill himself at the end of the day.
How then could he spend his last 24 hours? Many would have extravagant and unordinary ideas, but the truth is that George Falconer upholds his daily routine facing this day as any other. He wakes up, takes a shower, gets dressed, drives to university, teaches his last class and decides to join his old friend Charlie (amazingly interpreted by Julianne Moore) for supper. Tom Ford's remarkable film takes Christopher Isherwood's novel and turns it into a tour de force in which emotions and the human condition are on full display.
Everything seems different when you realize you are watching things for the last time. And so George finally lets go, acting and speaking to people in ways he had not even considered before. Through constant flashbacks, the viewer catches a few glances of the relationship George had with Jim. They had been together for 16 years and if not for a fatal accident they would still be together. Can life lose all meaning once we lost our loved ones? It certainly would seem like it; George finds himself not only disgruntled but also devoid of any hope. He dreads tomorrow. And why should he inflict himself with the torture of existing, day after day, if existence has proved to be so painful and dire? Some answers can be found in Slavoj Zizek and Jacques Lacan theories; more specifically in the notions of real and symbolic death. Evidently, we will suffer a biological death in which our bodies will fail and eventually disintegrate, that's what happens with Jim. This death occurs in the Real, and it entails the obliteration of our material selves. But we can also suffer a Symbolic death that has nothing to do with the annihilation of our actual bodies, but rather the destruction of our Symbolic universe and the extermination of our subject positions. Whenever people remember our names, remember our deeds and so on we continue to exist in the Symbolic even though we have died in the Real. Therefore, Jim is not truly dead as George remembers him constantly, but here evocation does not provide the necessary narrative of closure, the grieving process remains incomplete.
There is a fissure that separates the two deaths which can be filled either by manifestations of the monstrous or the beautiful. A concept that a Spanish hustler rescues during a conversation with the professor "Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty". That is why the presence of Kenny, Nicholas Hoult's character, is of supreme importance. He is not only the embodiment of beauty but he also provides the companionship George so urgently needs. Only through Kenny and the bonding they start developing will George experience an epiphany ("A few times in my life I've had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh"). A revelation in which he will understand why is it important to let go of the past, to put the pain away and to take a real risk: to accept life and keep on living.
The first interest of this movie for me was the appearance of Collin
Firth. (As he won the 2010 Oscar best actor award for kings Speech I
wanted to go back a little and check out some of his best was as per
critics) Taking place in 60s the movie is about a gay English professor
who is based on Los Angeles. As the story starts it has being a year
after he lost his partner in a car accident. And at present he finds it
difficult to cope up with is grief. Thus decides to suicide. While
trying to finish up his last deeds before his departure he is
approached by a young male student from his class. They find a
A Single Man is not the typical romantic movie or the drama. It speaks of a social reality which many of us may try to avoid or turn the blind eye. And the exquisite quality in the dramatic movie making just cannot get better than this. And the plot delivers more than just sex and a total different perspective of love and attraction.
The movie is filled with brief cutaways, insightful dialogues and minor details which pack the screen with subtle beauty. The cinematography is elegant and creates a whole mood for the plot and its flow. The weight of loneliness and grief combined with the uncertainty totally engulfs the audience.
Collin Firth delivers a totally mesmerizing performance no doubt. Each scene and each line is dramatically perfect. His character speaks of emotion, survival, intelligent and ego.
If you taste is for dramas and dramas that makes a different then 'A Single Man' will not fail you.
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