Saturday, December 26, 2009

A Single Man

This afternoon I saw A Single Man, starring Colin Firth and Julianne Moore.

George (Firth) is a British gay English professor teaching at California's Stanford University. It's the early 60s and he's arrived at a time in his life where he no longer finds it worth living. For eight years he's mourned the loss of his lover Jim (Matthew Goode) whom we meet in flashbacks.

It seems the only people who care for George are his friend Charley (Moore), who has spent their friendship wishing he was straight; and Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), a nosy student who seems genuinely concerned about him. And attracted to him.

We follow George through memories of happier times and through the rituals that one endures when they're preparing to end their life: getting the affairs in order, writing goodbye letters, saying nice things to those around them perhaps to show the compassion they felt they were never given.

He spends one last night with Charley, and then sparked by a warm memory, decides to have a drink at the local bar where he met Jim. Following close behind him is Kenny, who he decides to spend the evening with.

Before I go any further, I have to state that all of these scenes play out in quiet, muted tones until something in the character ignites and the color on the screen pops to illustrate it. This could be annoying if not done well, but Director Tom Ford, fashion phenom, happens to know color. It's a technique that not all could use, but he uses it well.

Also to note is the absolute perfect casting Ford found in Colin Firth. Just as convincingly as he usually plays a handsome heterosexual suitor, here he is most certainly a gay college professor with an appetite for only men. It may just be the role of his career.

Not to be understated is the pitch-perfect performance by Julianne Moore and the mature turn of roles for About a Boy's Nicholas Hoult. He's still a fantastic actor, but now instead of being awkward and pudgy, he's handsome, chiseled and...nude. After getting past the same mannerisms he had as a child, it's not hard to see him as a completely grown-up (hot) young man.

This field trip of pain isn't exactly the most pleasant thing to watch, but it's also not as dark as it could have been. Sometimes it's a comfort to see a film where humans just simply act human.

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