A Single Man
On one hand, A Single Man is a much better and more sensitive film than you'd expect from a fashion designer. On the other, it's excruciatingly obvious from every frame that this is a film from a fashion designer. Every shot in this scene looks like a print straight out of Vogue. Even the extras could be models. Hell, they probably are.
In fashion mogul Tom Ford's directorial debut, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, George Falconer is a gay British literature professor teaching at UCLA in the early 1960s and grieving over the sudden death of his lover, who died in a car accident. His best friend, Charley, another British expatriate, is doing her best to cheer him up and, in turn, use George to help mitigate her own loneliness. And meanwhile, one of George's students, Kenny, is trying to make a connection with the sad yet handsome professor.
Colin Firth plays George in a quiet, understated and impeccably groomed performance, as does Julianne Moore with her character, Charley. Nicholas Hoult as the new young potential love interest and Matthew Goode as the newly lost love interest are fine, although their characters aren't very developed. Kenny is little more than a cipher who's shown up to possibly pull George out of his suicidal funk and we only see George's recently departed Jim through rose-colored flashbacks, when the two of them languidly enjoy each others' company in picture-perfect poses or meet cute at a local dive bar.
Still, theses scenes between George and Jim and George and Kenny have a lovely muted and restrained quality to them, as does George’s brief (and tangential) scene where he meets a Spanish Jimmy Dean clone outside a liquor store.
Eduard Grau's cinematography is astounding, with the images switching from monochromes to vibrant colors, depending on George's mood. Sometimes this is distracting, sometimes it's arresting, but at all times it's beautiful.
All throughout the movie characters comment on how terrible Colin Firth looks, when in fact he looks like, well, an airbrushed cover model for GQ. True, the voiceover narration in the opening points out that he uses his meticulously organized wardrobe as a sort of costume to cover up the shell of a person he now is, but still, never has grief and suicidal tendencies looked so...pretty.
Never looking that good, even on good days,
James "Not-So-Hot Mess" Comtois