A Single Man

Everyday goes by in a haze, but today I have decided will be different.

I don’t like people who don’t like sad movies.  I really don’t like people who don’t like sad music.  Either it means (a) you’ve never been sad or (b) you have been sad, but you don’t like to wallow.  When you talk to someone who’s never been sad, it’s like talking to a small child.  Like they’ve never had the moment they realized they were a real person.  There’s no point moving past the weather with them.

As for those who stay out of the murky emotional pool, “Wallow away,” I say.  “Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty.”  Deny that at your peril.

George (Colin Firth) has lost Jim (Matthew Goode).  This has made life profoundly sad for him.  He teaches at a university in LA.  His old friend Charley (Julianne Moore) lives in LA as well and she’s incredibly lonely.  He’s decided that it’s time for the haze to pass.  A young student, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), who is a strange reflection of George, subtly (and not too subtly) announces himself to George and tries to bring him back from the edge.

Did I say it was uncommon for a director to get both visuals and strong performances?  Well, A Single Man (2009) is another exception to the rule.

I had thought that director (and co-writer) Tom Ford was a photographer when I first saw the movie.  Nothing in the movie made me consider otherwise.  Turns out he’s a fashion designer.  I guess that’s sort of half-right, then.  His work is in image and the human form.  That translates well into film.

The performances are terrific to a man.  Even Carlos (Jon Kortajarena), who is obviously a model, plays his part convincingly.  Colin Firth, though, is just incredibly good.  This performance got him his first (of two) Academy Award nomination.  He just plays the role to perfection.  Nothing more you can say, is there?  Oh yes, you will become very well acquainted with the south side of his back….  Ladies.

Julianne Moore, who I usually don’t like, was completely tolerable to me, which translates into “excellent performance” in English.  She seems very lonely.  Good work.  I always have trouble watching Nicholas Hoult.  He’s like a male Amanda Seyfried.  They have alien qualities.  That’s not to say he was bad, not in the least, just one of those things.  Matthew Goode was fine.

But this was Firth’s movie as far as acting is concerned.  Everyone else is there for Firth to talk to.  He was great in The King’s Speech (2010), but he was better in A Single Man.  For him alone, it’s worth owning.

The music by Abel Korzeniowski is also fantabulistic.  While you’re at it, you might as well buy the music as well.  Melancholy and gorgeous.  I like my music like I like my women.  Well, I guess you can keep the melancholy.  Still, the music is almost haunting it’s so good.  And it’s really quality composition, too.  Phwah.

This movie is rated R and having homosexual subject matter may lead you to believe you’d be seeing the forth of Firth.  You’d be wrong.  Like I said, there’s plenty of cheek to go around, but that’s all.  In fact, nobody goes further than a kiss in terms of contact.  The MPAA should take a long hard look at themselves.  **Wagging finger**

The movie is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood and seems rather close to the man himself.    Everyone involved appears to have taken up that connection and enhanced it with their own powers.  And I think you’ve got to like a movie that’s this personal.  Whether you can relate to particular circumstances or not, you can always see in them some echo of something you’ve felt.  That’s magic.

Think of a song.  Think of the Adagietto.  You probably don’t know the first thing about Mahler’s life or history, but you know, without words, what this song is about.  Evocative.  This movie is just evoking something more focused and overt.

Well done.

About Prof. Ratigan

A semi-lawyer and amateur enthusiast.
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