A SINGLE MAN (2009)


 (1-31-10) Greetings again from the darkness. World famous fashion designer Tom Ford (YSL, Gucci) dives head first into the movie world as writer (screenplay) and director of this one. As expected, the visual details are impeccable – from the “glass house” to the color scheme to the set design to the wardrobe and make-up. All that is missing is a character we care about.

Colin Firth has been nominated for many awards for his performance as George, the grieving professor, who in 1962 lost his partner of 16 years. Not even sure grieving is the correct word. Mostly, George has just given up on life. He gets up every morning and puts on his facade and begins the false-front that is his day.

We see, in flashback/daydream form, Mathew Goode as George’s partner. They seemed to have been very happy together. We also see Julianne Moore as George’s neighbor and long ago shot at a “real” relationship (her words). Ford has a nice touch showing Ms. Moore applying make-up as she puts on her best front for an evening with her grieving friend, George. It’s all a bit pathetic actually.

Anyway, here it is 8 months after his lover’s death and George has apparently decided to end his misery. We are locked in to his preparations, which are every bit as fastidious as his morning routine. My favorite parts were when George gets shocked out of his little world and has to interface, even briefly, with a colleague or neighbor’s kid. The way he maintains his front is the key to what’s ticking.

Overall, it is impossible to argue with the praise being heaped upon Mr. Firth for his fine performance, but this film is really pretty shallow and gives us nothing to ponder. Maybe the Christopher Isherwood novel (source material) is better. Evidently the subject matter clicked with Mr. Ford … too bad he wasn’t successful in sharing his connection.

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