December 18, 2009

See: A Single Man

Tom Ford's A Single Man is a visually rich adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel: "one of the first and best novels of the modern gay liberation movement" according to Edmond White. With shades of Mrs. Dalloway (and echoes of The Hours), the film focuses on a single day in the life of its protagonist, an English professor, as he remembers the life he shared with his lover, interacts with the students around him, and shares an evening with a woman he has known the better part of his life.

Stylistically, A Single Man feels at times like a Wong Kar-Wai film filtered through early Terence Malick by way of Todd Haynes. I mean that as a compliment. It's a beautiful film (shot by Eduard Grau), carefully wrought, in the service of its material. Colin Firth and Julianne Moore are both excellent, and each surprised me with the nuance of their performance. They flesh out their characers and suffuse the film with a depth and an emotion that might otherwise have been lacking.

Unortunately, in the way a filmed play never quite makes the transition from one medium to another, A Single Man feels like a filmed book. The ideas are meticulously captured and presented, but the film falls shy of feeling like a work whole unto itself. It made me long to have the novel before me so that I could read the original prose and plumb the depths of Isherwood's thoughts. It's perhaps an unfair criticism, but I felt there was a step lacking that might have made the film complete unto itself. That said, the film is a wonderful work of art, and an auspicious debut for Mr. Ford.

★ ★ ★ ½ ☆

| Leave a comment | Tags: ,,

Leave a comment

Back to blog