A Single Man

I wasn’t entirely sure what this movie was when I went into it. I had read about it being a gay love story, but I was unsure by the time I went in because I had read about it when it first came out months ago and the picture that stuck most in my mind was of Colin Firth and Julianne Moore on a floor, pre-coital looking.

Turns out it was a gay love story with a tragic tinge. Colin Firth wants to die. That is how he’s decided to make this day different. He packs his gun and buys the bullets and lays out all of his possessions. And then goes to teach at either UCLA, USC, or Cal State LA–maybe even Occidental–where one of his students, a handsome Zac Efron lookalike, takes a liking to him because he seemed like “he needed a friend.”

The movie kind of plays its hand really early just based on the business model of “if a movie starts out this heavy and sad, it’s gotta get better.” Or, at least, I began to think, “Please God, get better.” It eschews the three act structure by immediately dropping off the chart towards bad fortune only to, hopefully, get better.

The most interesting aspect of this film, other than Firth’s excellently subtle performance, was the way in which they desaturated much of the color in the movie only to drop it back in when he thinks back on his lover who died in a car accident in Denver, or when he sees the daughter of the people across the street at the bank, or when he sees Julianne Moore’s character. This was something that often teetered on kitsch and heavy-handed mood changing, but Firth’s performance seemed to save it from going over the edge as a way to compensate for horseshit acting.

The acting was great across the board, but it seemed as if nothing could keep the film’s wheels from slowing down. The story, towards the middle, seemed to create inertia against the basic momentum of filmmaking. A film, from frame one to frame xxxxxx will snowball down a hill. This film didn’t seem to want to do that and, in turn, it became muddled and boring.

In spite of that, though, the film is well crafted and not so much of a downer (cf, the Road et al) that I’d never want to see it again.

One thought on “A Single Man

  1. I saw this film last week and I completely agree with you that Firth’s performance held the film together. It was a fucking beautiful film to look at, man. I felt like I was watching a painting.

    Since it was a Tom Ford film it was pretty much an hour and a half fashion show on a very, veeeeeery sad episode of “Mad Men” (Jon Hamm was the voice on the phone, telling Firth the demise of his lover).

    I felt like Firth was walking through a snap shot of the 60s at times. Everyone was some damn stylish. It kept screaming “period piece” at me. The girls dressed in black at the university. The kids dressed up just to play outside, ect.

    As a whole, I enjoyed the hell out of the film.


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