This weekend I saw Tom Ford's beautiful debut A Single Man, the story of George, a professor in the early '60s who plans his last day of life after struggling with the loss of his partner. This film brings excellent performances by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, indulgently pretty cinematography, and the introduction of my new boyfriend, Jon Kortajarena.
It's not a total stretch of a surprise to see that an accomplished fashion designer could do such a good job at film directing. Ford's experience working with color, composition, and just plain style show through in the carefully constructed shots that make the movie look like page after page of glossy editorials. That is not to say that Ford was not heavy-handed with certain flourishes that he must have pounced upon as great signatures, but which grow tired quickly. Too many extreme close-ups of people's eyes, and the moments of sudden color saturation which would have had more impact if used less frequently.
Firth and Moore hit all the right notes of a thoughtful melancholic, and a lonely drunk, respectively. As the film only takes place over the course of one day, with flashbacks, there is not much of a journey to watch, but the changes that Firth's character undergoes are profound and touching. There were more scenes than seemed necessary of George eyeing young hot men, and while at first it seemed like an overly articulated way to isolate him as a gay man in a non-receptive society, I later thought of it as an example of how he wanted to dwell upon the finer things in life on his last day living it.
While I enjoyed watching the movie, I felt it had more indelible style than substance. But the balance of sadness and light made for a beautiful movie-watching experience. Though how we're supposed to believe that Colin Firth would ever spend time with Nicholas Hoult when he'd been with Matthew Goode for 16 years, I don't know. A Single Man also has cameos from Lee Pace and Ginnifer Goodwin.