Sunday, January 10, 2010

Movie review: A Single Man

While I was in New York City between Christmas and New Year's, Tobi and I decided to go see the new movie of Christopher Isherwood's novel A Single Man. I was interested because this novel, written in 1964, was the first of a new genre of fiction that portrayed realistic gay characters without apology. The movie differs in some details from Isherwood's story but retains its spirit.

The story is a day in the life of a man whose longtime lover has been killed in an accident eight months previously. Set in 1962, the world that the protagonist inhabits treats gay relationships as if they do not exist. As one reviewer put it, it's the story of a grief that can't speak its name.

There are a number of interesting aspects to this movie, and I have to concede that it's one of the best gay-themed movies I've ever seen.

The movie was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford and as a result has an unusually stylish look. I at first found this odd, but as the movie progressed it started to make a more sense given what you learn about the characters. Ford spends a lot of effort getting the details of 1962 America to read on film. (The art direction was by the same people who are responsible for the TV series Mad Men.) The result is as visually stylized as a perfume commercial. Some find this distracting; I liked the effect.

The acting, especially the roles played by Colin Firth and Julianne Moore, is excellent. There will be Oscar nominations for these roles.

The film is currently in limited release. I understand that it will roll out to more theaters in April (i.e., after the Academy Awards provide all that free publicity). If you live in one of the major metropolitan areas where it's currently playing, definitely check this one out.

Here's the trailer:


Kurt said...

Thanks for the review, I am stoked to see it!

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

I'll keep my eyes open. The one independent cinema that played films like this shut its doors last fall, unfortunately, so we might have to wait for the DVD here.

Thanks for the recommendation.

J G-W said...

The spread in Out magazine made me feel like I really didn't care. The ogling of Nicholas Hoult turned me off. Blah.

But your review and the trailer have nudged me to see it if I have a chance.

I didn't know Colin Firth was in this... I love him as an actor, and would go see this just for him... I'm a fan of Julianne Moore too; loved her in Far From Heaven. But is she being type cast as the female interest in a gay-themed film?