A Single Man (Blu-ray)
I’ve found that come Oscar season, whenever the first thing you hear about a film is that it features an amazing performance from its lead actor or actress, chances are going to be good that the movie is going to lack in other areas. Such is the case with A SINGLE MAN, where Colin Firth shines as the grief-stricken lover and delivers a career-best performance. Unfortunately, the rest of the film lacked the necessary substance to engage the audience in any significant manner and at the end of the film, we’re left with a great performance a bit of an empty film.
Colin Firth is George, a professor at a local university that is now eight months removed from dealing with the death of his longtime lover, Jim. Typically in film, when we reach characters that experience a devastating loss, we follow them as they try to deal with the grief, whether it be to a positive or negative outcome. But with A SINGLE MAN, George has already dealt with the grief and has decided he can’t take it. We pick up with him on what he has determined is his last day because at the end of the evening, he presumably is going to take his own life.
As he goes about his day, he meets Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), a young student of his that is stricken with the older George. He also has an evening with Charley (Julianne Moore), an old friend of his from London that lives near by. But it’s the relationship with Kenny that breathes life into George and that will hopefully give him the motivation he needs to continue living. Moore is her usual wonderful self as Charley, but the relationship is relatively meaningless and teeters on that off-putting ‘Will and Grace’ style of friendship where she tries to seduce George despite his clear affinity for men.
First time director Tom Ford proves that he can do more than design a sharp looking suit and he adds plenty of stylistic scenes to liven up the film. He has a tough job as the entire movie is a depressing look into one man’s hopelessness. But he inserted some nice editing and some innovative use of colors and film types to heighten the moods and give George, and the audience, hope that everything is not loss. The downfall of the film is the fact that nothing really happens to George. He goes through his day and engages in conversations and meets some new people, but he doesn’t actually do anything. That leaves some dry spells in the film, which makes it drag at times.
It was refreshing to watch a film with a homosexual lead not address the homosexuality or make it the predominant theme of the film. Too often a gay character’s focus is on his sexuality and not the other emotions he may be dealing with. But this film is about a man dealing with the loss of his life love and his homosexuality is not a focus for the film. This isn’t a mainstream film and it definitely won’t appeal to everyone, but gay or straight, the pain George deals with and the emptiness he feels is something that anyone who has lost someone they love can relate to.
Video: The first time Tom Ford changed the color palette of the film, I thought my projector was acting up on me. But I noticed that Ford would change the colors of the film to match whatever mood he was going for. The result was not only innovative, but it was displayed perfectly with this Blu-ray release.
Audio: The audio was also wonderful.
Commentary with Tom Ford: At times I got the feeling that Tom Ford was reading from a note card, but then he settles down and gets comfortable with the commentary. He has too many dry spells, but when he does talk, he gives great details about the film and I found him really interesting to listen to. The track could have used someone for him to play off of, just to keep it rolling, but it’s still a really good listen.
The Making of A Single Man (16:08): Even the making-of featurette is filmed in a stylish manner. We have too many movie clips to make it fully enjoyable, but everyone shows up to talk about the film and what it meant. I liked hearing from Tom Ford, but no one else offered anything I didn’t already know.