Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Movie review: A single Man

Tom Ford is one of those men around who ambivalent opinions and critiques emerge: You either love him or hate him. He is either a pretentious well-dressed man or a genius with artistic talent. Since he is mostly known for being a fashion designer, I only knew him -up until now - for his sharp designs and his controversial adverts promoting his perfume, carefully placed between a pair of tanned and oiled-up female legs. After that, the hate was obvious. Overrated and over-priced clothing joined with bad advertisement is a no-no in my book of men to love and lust about. However, I recently came about to watch his cinematic debut: A single Man, and could not help but be baffled with awe at his genius and artistic sense. Everything, from the colors, to the soundtrack, to the neat skinny black tie; everything made me want to melt in a luscious cloud of beauty, drinking whiskey with a sharp sense of loss.

Loss remains the main word whispered throughout the whole film. We follow George, an english professor, who is unable to cope after the sudden death of his partner Jim. Before you say anything about how cliche this may sound, set yourself back in the 60s. Although we do not get the immediate pressure on homosexuals from George and Jim's relationship, the oppressive and heavy atmosphere is quickly set up by the environment.

Colin Firth does an excellent job at playing a cynical English professor at loss with his own identity -constructing and deconstructing himself all throughout the film simply to be able to "wake up in the morning". The one great scene that elevates the film from simply great to brilliant is near the end, when Firth contemplates the naked body of one of his students, Kenny (played by the excellent ex-Skins actor Nicholas Hoult), who is passed out on his couch. The look on Firth's face tells it all for me. He manages to capture the whole promise of the film in one glance -loss, survivor's guilt, survival, lust, longing, sexual desire, grief, numbness, sadness, life, and, ultimately, death. And his gaze is so human, so naked that one cannot help but feel tears in one's eyes.

Firth and Moore
Tom Ford also offers us luscious scenes, from the one in the gas station where Firth is being seduced by what looks like an Italian model, over a cherry-champagne colored sky; to the opening scene, where Firth is seen floating naked in water, in trance, a voluptuous yet naked tableau. As to the women, they are as charming as a skinny black tie: George's best friend Charley (played by the very excellent Julianne Moore) is a sharp and exuberant divorcee who drinks her way through life. She is beautiful, cynical... and yet somehow she is not enough. Ford likes playing with this idea that to certain people, life is not enough, and you end up deconstructing yourself, falling into fragments. Of the few shots of Charley, she is seen one half of her face pampered with make-up and the other naked, she is seen dancing for one second, before bursting into tears and hysteria, she is seen with longing eyes that are quickly clouded by mistrust and hurt. Fragments. Sometimes hell is within.

The movie's structure is even more so fragmented, the audience is introduced to a gun in the first few scenes, but Ford succeeds in distilling that tension into pastel colored skies, champagne, and cigarettes. Which is why the audience is more than surprised at the ending, which is, coincidently, the climax of the movie. Ford's mastery of colors and style even makes us forget the plot of the movie, which is superbly acted out by first class actors. A big bravo to Ford, consider me converted now!

1 comment:

  1. I thought about reading it all, then I remembered that you always spoil movies and books.