A Single Man
Critics often are bothered by some of the over-production that engulfs the substance in summer blockbuster films. I can sometimes agree with that sentiment and believe that standard should be applied to the independent art house films as well. Sometimes the smaller films can over emphasize their artistic vision that the substance gets lost. Such is my complaint with A SINGLE MAN.
In the 1960’s, George (Colin Firth) has lost his lover, Jim (Matthew Goode), of 16 years in a car accident. It has been 8 months since his death and George is lonely and depressed. Waking up brings pain. He is very meticulous in all that he does from his apartment and clothes to his plan at suicide. As we follow him during this presumably last day, he is interrupted by a few human interactions. Specifically his best friend Charley (Julianne Moore), who is an older beauty trying to make meaning of her life as well and Kenny (Nicholus Hoult) who is a student that seems to have not only a crush but a kindred spirit with George.
Everything about this film looks really good. And why shouldn’t it? It is being first time directed by Tom Ford, a costume designer. The costuming and art direction is very precise and meticulous just like the lead character. However, it seems to be done in such an excessive fashion that it becomes intrusive, which makes for a very boring story. This film could possibly be cut down another 20 minutes if the director would just lose all the close up shots of the eyes and the mouth. The pacing of this film is at times blood curdling slow. The film does serve better with a methodic look at everything, but I believe the film goes over board. Ford appears to believe his art direction, costuming and cinematography are more important than the character, so much so that the film wanders away from our lead and his story to show off how pretty we are making this picture look.
What is going for this film other than it looking beautiful is the acting. In particular the great Colin Firth, who is able to covey so much internal pain while pretending as if nothing is going wrong at all. Firth kept me captivated at times when the story clearly wasn’t. The supporting cast did a fine job as well. Julianne Moore brings some much needed energy to the film while Nicholus Hoult and Matthew Goode characters deliver the right amount of tenderness that George needed.
There is an interesting story and message here with some extremely wonderful moments, but there needed to be more in that story to achieve the message and less on the look of that story. I think Ford is definitely talented but A SINGLE MAN appeared to be a little full of itself.