A Single Man

Starring Colin Firth, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Julianne Moore. Directed by Tom Ford.
Rated M (mature themes). 100 mins.

Colin Firth has received a great deal of acclaim for his role as George, a Christopher Isherwood-like professor of English in California in 1962.  After winning the Best Actor award in Venice, 2009, he was nominated for many awards, including the Oscar.  It has confirmed Firth as a strong and versatile actor (despite Mamma Mia!) after such films as Easy Living, And when did you last see your father, Genova and even such tongue-in-cheek straight roles in the St Trinians comedies.

A Single Man is based (with some variations) on Christopher Isherwood's novel.  It takes place over one day in 1962 with news of the missile crisis and Cuba in the background.  However, it is a sad day for George.  Jim, his partner of 16 years is dead.  George goes through the routines of his professorial day, lecturing on Aldous Huxley to uninterested students, except for the precocious Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) who stalks George and who, later that night, offers him something of a new life.  George, however, has felt suicidal and remembers his time with Jim (Matthew Goode).  There are some flashbacks to their meeting in 1946 as well as some scenes of their life together.

He is also in touch with his old London friend, Charlie (Julianne Moore), has a meal with her and gossips and reminisces.  (American Moore plays an Englishwoman while Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult are British actors playing American.)

Obviously, this is not a film of action.  Rather, it is a film of characters and of reflection.

Colin Firth offers a subtle and quiet performance as George.  He is grieving.  He receives the news of the death by phone from a mutual friend. He is being stoic at times.  At other times, he feels like falling to pieces or opting out.  His performance also communicates the gay sensibilities of his character at a time when gay men and women were closeted.
George is not welcome at Jim's funeral.  George has some discussions with Kenny about minorities where the audience is asked to listen between the lines, about themes of fears and persecutions.

The film is the first directed by Tom Ford who wrote the screenplay.  He has been better known prior to this as a world-known fashion designer.

Icon Films  Out February 25

Fr Peter Malone MSC directs the film desk of SIGNIS: the World Association of Catholic Communicators, and is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.

 


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