Friday, December 11, 2009

Movie with Abe: A Single Man

A Single Man
Directed by Tom Ford
Released December 11, 2009

It’s always interesting to see a director’s first movie, especially when the director comes from an altogether different field unrelated to the world of film. What’s most intriguing about the crossover is that the new filmmaker often brings something crucial from his previous profession to his new career. In the case of former fashion designer Tom Ford, what he has to showcase for the world of cinema is absolutely astonishing, and that’s a major part of what makes his debut feature a must-see film.

Ford doesn’t waste a single moment in “A Single Man.” Every shot is extended and carefully caressed to show something unexpected, and his ability to dwell on the simplest things to make them seem extraordinary is reminiscent of the film-long charge of “American Beauty.” Ford has made an art film that doesn’t dismiss plot but rather makes every scene stronger by emphasizing the beauty he is able to find in each person and object on screen. The attention to detail only makes the story more intriguing. The 1960s setting utilizes colorful costumes and stunning set pieces that pop off the screen and make the film a visual pleasure.

The camera zooms in following the narrowing or widening eyes of a person’s glance, and there isn’t an instant that isn’t properly embellished to make it all the more fascinating. Accompanying these moments of slowed-down contemplation is the magnificent score by composer Abel Korzeniowski, which makes even the most seemingly mundane sequence of shots essential and heightens the dramatic meaning of every moment. It is certainly one of the best scores of the year, and without a doubt the most unique and original composition.

As if the daring direction and stellar score weren’t enough, the actors are unbelievably terrific. Colin Firth sheds his sheepish, neurotic antics and turns serious for the performance of a lifetime as George, a soft-spoken professor trying to deal with the sudden and unexpected death of his life partner. Firth is unrecognizable and brilliant, and his incredible dramatic turn indicates that the actor should consider breaking out of his shell more often. The lovely Julianne Moore is bold enough to don a British accent, and the result is simply wondrous. Moore’s Charley is excessive and hilarious while at the same time sad, lonely, and desperate. The interactions between Firth and Moore are divine. Matthew Goode (“Match Point,” “Watchmen”) makes Firth’s pain understandable as the charming late love of George’s life, seen in extraordinarily powerful flasbacks . The most surprising and marvelous performance in a film full of such feats is that by Nicholas Hoult, last seen considerably shorter in the world of film as the young kid in “About a Boy.” His turn as one of George’s brightest and most intellectually-stimulated students shows maturity and, above all, talent. This is one of the finest ensembles in recent history, one which makes every scene glisten just as much as the framing and direction do. “A Single Man” displays a staggering amount of creativity and artistic prowess from all involved, and that makes it simply irresistible.


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