Cinema doesn't get much better than this (by larry-411)
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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.
Colin Firth and Julianne Moore shine as usual in Tom Ford's brilliant directorial debut (by Benedict_Cumberbatch)
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, <more>
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.
Isherwood, Ford and Firth, not necessarily in that order (by albertodr07)
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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.
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 <more>
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!
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 <more>
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.
"A Single Man" is an exercise, in this case a director's first exercise, in style; and there is a lot to look at that often overpowers what's happening in the narrative. And it's a powerful narrative at that. Louis Malle joined the New Wave with "The Fire Within," which was a similar sketch of the last 24 hours in a suicidal playboy. Here we have a remarkable performance by Colin Firth as a man lost in grief and isolated by his sexuality. The time-frame is important: 1962 and no one's been liberated. Not women, gays or African Americans, and the atmosphere <more>
is stifling. George has no place to express his grief or find consolation. He's "invisible" and he wants to check out of his misery.Watching this film, I was reminded of the superb documentary about Isherwood himself: "Chris & Don: A Love Story." If you want to delve deeper into the era, I'd recommend that film. But Tom Ford, famous as a fashion designer, opts for surface here. That's fine and makes for beautifully composed cinematography that recalls the era. But at the center of the movie and the narrative is a major performance by Colin Firth, and all the period detail, beautiful as it is, is eclipsed by Firth's agony.Julianne Moore, one of my favorite contemporary actresses, is miscast. She assumes an English accent that is distracting, and she's made to look ugly and desperate. The rest of the cast is almost negligible although they perform their roles without getting in the way of Firth: Matthew Goode as the deceased lover in many flashbacks that are almost too painful to watch, and Nicholas Hoult as a young student who senses George's grief and tries to insinuate himself into George's life this relationship is likely a mirror of Isherwood's own relationship with a young man in "Chris and Don: A Love Story" .While the period detail is given as much attention by Tom Ford as the very painful drama, a busy but effective score by Abel Korzeniowski & Shigeru Umebayashi unites the visuals with Firth's pain. And as we move towards the resolution of George's grief at least in the terms laid out by the script Firth never misses his mark. It's a performance that will be applauded and studied for years to come.