May 29, 2011

[Movies] A Single Man (2009)

A Single Man (2009)As much as I'm an out and proud gay man, it doesn't mean that all of the "classic" gay stereotypes apply to me, as if often the case with stereotypes in general. Sure, I love musical theater and I'll ogle a go-go boy while at the club. However there are some aspects of "traditional" gay culture that I don't necessarily subscribe to, I also have nothing against them. Different strokes for different folks, and all that.

One aspect that I'll never really get is the whole models thing. Beyond the basic level of appreciation for a guy with a hot body who's posing in next to nothing, the whole obsession with couture, the models themselves and their unique lifestyle has never really appealed to me. On some fundamental level I can still appreciate shows like Project Runway since I respect the artistic goals of the designers but don't expect me to get on board with shows like America's Next Top Model since the models annoy me to death and too much Tyra makes my head hurt.

So when this movie came along with the name Tom Ford attached to it, it didn't really generate a blip on my geek radar. Yes, I am aware that he's a fashion designer but that's about it. I have no clue as to how to differentiate his fashion creations from anyone else nor would I ever see the value in trying to invest in his creations either. But hey, the movie got some good reviews and so it seemed appropriate to eventually get around to watching it.

A Single Man is a 2009 LGBT drama directed by Tom Ford. It's based on a book of the same name written by Christopher Isherwood and here Colin Firth was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actor given his performance.

George Falconer (Colin Firth) is an English professor in Los Angles. We're presented with visions of him at the scene of a car accident involving his lover, Jim (Matthew Goode), who died earlier in the year. Since then, George has been tremendously depressed and the movie is littered with flashbacks their life together. His friend Charley (Julianne Moore) does her part in trying to cheer him up although she too seems to lead a rather miserable life.

66th Venice Film Festival, 10th day (11/09/200...Image via WikipediaOn this day, George is looking at this with the eyes of one about to leave this world. As things progress, more and more we're made to realize that George may just be about to give into his depression and end his life. But his interactions with one of this students, Kenny Potter (Nicholas Hoult) and a Spanish gigolo Carlos (Jon Kortajarena) seem to give him more to think about. Thus we follow George's life in this single day and wonder whether or not he's going to push through with his plans.

Given Ford's direction, the word that best describes the look and feel of the movie is pretty. Everyone is made beautiful in one way or another and each scene feels more like a magazine spread. This makes sense given his fashion background and at times the shot selection makes you think that this is one long drawn out commercial and all that we're waiting for is the product shot to tie it all together. While this doesn't necessarily take away from the movie experience, it does sort of limit how far it can go.

Firth was definitely amazing in this movie, although some might argue that he was only acting ni the way that he acts in almost every other movie. In some respects, the role was perfectly suited for him (and I'm not saying he's queer), the closeted and mild-manner professor role just worked for him. Plus the complex emotions that he had to convey given a man suffering from acute depression - he did a most stellar job indeed.

Matthew Goode was, well, pretty. His scenes were rather limited but darn he was wonderfully nice to look at and as charming as ever. If only he had more movies like that. I was surprised that Nicholas Hoult came of rather attractive as well. Not hot mind you, just delicately beautiful - a great selection to convey the sort of innocent beauty we associate with youth. And then there was the model but he was largely forgettable for me. Cue laughter.

The story is a simple yet powerful, credit to the original writer for capturing this experience so tied with the period in such a detailed and artful manner. Combined with Ford's direction, the whole thing came together as a beautiful set piece. It's the kind of movie experience that leaves you impressed, but it takes you a while to figure out precisely why. Some confusion is inevitable but on the whole you should walk away appreciative of the whole thing.

A Single Man is definitely a different kind of gay movie and one that we shouldn't close the door on just yet. While I'm not exactly an automatic fan of Ford's movie-making abilities, he does have potential that deserves to be watched a bit further. The movie gets 4 long, wordless sequences that look like fashion editorial concepts out of a possible 5.



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