A Single Man
A Single Man (2009)
Dir. Tom Ford
Things learned from A Single Man: Fashion designers-turned directors do not observe things like subtlety. Stick Julianne Moore in non-contemporary clothing and settings and you’ve already guaranteed yourself respectability. Colin Firth has never shown talent like this in his entire career.
A Single Man is uneven, as is to be expected from a debut film, especially of this stature. There are times, especially early on in the film that it seems just a bit too pleased with itself and its audacious visual design; (we’re talking dream sequences, slow-motion underwater shots, and even a dramatic color palette shift during certain symbolic scenes). Add to that an emotional heft that is both moving and manipulative in its over-arching symbolism.
Then it hit me; A Single Man is essentially the history of queer cinema wrapped up in one evocative package. The film evokes everything from Pink Narcissus in its provocative twist on the male gaze, to the pop culture imagery of Scorpio Rising, to even the re-appropriations of Sirkian melodrama of Far From Heaven. Tom Ford certainly knows his film history, but if this sounds like faint praise, it honestly shouldn’t, because Ford maintains an unwavering hand throughout the film, so much that it’s honestly quite hard not to get swept up in the operatic cockiness at display here. It does not hold a very intimate emotional grasp I must say, but Firth and Moore do provide a much-needed grounding to the grandeur. (It must be noted also that Nicholas Hoult, the awkward young boy of About a Boy-turned GQ-ready man-meat, provides an impressive performance as well, one that shows a talent for ambiguity.)
So here we have it: a very impressive debut from the most unlikely of candidates. Tom Ford clearly has a cinematic intuition and an eye to match, and he even has a gift for finding the perfect performance out of Colin Firth, an always pleasant but never, until now, great actor.
Oh, and how about this trailer… Cocky bastards…