Skip to main content

Review: A Single Man


Colin Firth plays George Falconer —one of the coolest film names ever by the way —a repressed man who has woken up without his lover Jim (Matthew Goode) by his side for months. A phone call from one of Jim's cousins makes his new reality clear: Jim died in a car accident outside of Denver. George will not be allowed to come to the wedding, family only of course. This revelation shatters George's life, but Firth plays it with the quiet dignity he is renowned for.

So now the man who was only allowed some small semblance of happiness must go about his life not allowed to grieve his loss without being discovered. This would be harder for many people, but every morning George cinches his tie knot he separates his passions from his brain. Every morning he goes into work he becomes an unfeeling machine, only passing the time until the Cubans nuke us to kingdom come. Months pass and George contemplates suicide, that is until Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) one of his young students takes an interest in the cagey old man.

It would never have occurred to most that designer Tom Ford would've made a good director, but A Single Man possesses a touch that rivals great auteurs. Shots are staged just so and the pacing never flounders. When George finally acknowledges that there is more to life than what's lost, the colors flourish and create one of the most beautiful scenes on celluloid I have ever seen.

Colin Firth delivers the performance of his entire career, he may be known for romantic comedies, but that image could change if the Best Actor Oscar goes to the Brit. Matthew Goode who has also turned in quite a few good performances in The Lookout, Watchmen and Brideshead Revisited, performs the thankless task of being the lover often ignored in films like Milk. There is a cool cameo to be on the look out for as well—no sense in spoiling it for you.

A Single Man reminds me of an old Federico Fellini film. The well dressed, meticulously groomed cast, and a central protagonist plagued with existential angst. This film looks beautiful and at the least should garner four Academy Awards nods for art direction, cinematography, and costuming (not to mention the Best Actor nod that Colin Firth will no doubt get).

Grief is infrequently captured like this and, thanks to Tom Ford and Colin Firth, this is one of the most beautiful takes imaginable.

***1/2 out of ****

Popular posts from this blog

Review: Anomalisa

Weird is rarely used as a good quality in film criticism, but few words so completely describe Charlie Kaufman’s work as weird does. All of his films are a window into his very particular worldview, and that p.o.v. is certainly unlike anything seen in pop culture. For that reason, Anomalisa became an entry on many most anticipated lists for 2015. That Kaufman chose stop-motion to tell this story made the picture an event. So it came as a disappointment when the film was one of the year’s more mundane efforts.

Being John Malkovich and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind have an energy and heart at the center that is not present here. Previous collaborators like Spike Jonze and Michel Gondry were able to temper the overwhelming negativity Charlie Kaufman occasionally falls prey to, but, this time, the writer doesn’t have a director to rein things in. In all of his efforts to create an experience that is both familiar and alienating, Kaufman may have accidentally created something host…

Review: The Salvation

Westerns have never recovered from the oversaturation that killed off viewer interest decades ago, but every now and then a gem pops up. Recent successes like The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford, 2007’s 3:10 to Yuma and the Coen brothers adaptation of True Grit all did well because they tweaked the genre slightly, but director Kristian Levring goes with an old school approach. A faithful recreation of those revenge Westerns made so popular in the 1970s, The Salvation envelopes many elements of previous Clint Eastwood classics and wraps it into a tidy package.

The Salvation starts in on the central dilemma, joining Jon (Hannibal‘s Mad Mikkelsen) at the train station where he awaits the arrival of his wife and son. Jon and his brother, Peter (Mikael Persbrandt), have lived in the United States long enough to build a hospitable life for their family back in Denmark. This homecoming should be a sweet moment to establish the family important to Jon, but fate plays out…

Review: Selma

It may surprise many that Martin Luther King Jr. never received the celluloid treatment prior to Selma. Sure he had been mentioned in other historical pieces, but short of documentary footage, King was never given center stage. Quite shocking given the man's legacy and the lingering effect of his efforts still felt today. Several years of production and a director change later, Selma arrives as the film worthy of the man.