Monday, January 18, 2010

A Single Man (***1/2)

A Single Man. 99 mins. R. Written and Directed by Tom Ford. Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Ginnifer Goodwin, and Nicholas Hoult.

If there's one word to describe A Single Man, it's stylish. That should come as no surprise given that the movie is directed by fashion designer and former Gucci creative director Tom Ford. This is his first film, and already he's established himself as a confident and capable director. Sure, A Single Man is prone to fits of hazy and artsy pretentiousness, but it's easy to overlook when Colin Firth is so darn good in the lead role. You've never seen him like this, so far removed from the bumbling dork in the Bridget Jones films. It's a truly great performance, and he deserves all the awards recognition he's been getting. The movie tracks the course of a single day in 1962. Firth plays George, an English professor mourning the death of his longtime gay lover, and contemplating suicide. Julianne Moore is also quite good as the neighbor and friend who provides comfort to George, that is, when she's not hopelessly crushing on him. Ford does a really nice job of establishing a melancholy mood, and he often allows the movie (and its characters) the time to breathe. As an audience member, the movie just washes over you, much like George himself, in all those naked under-the-water shots of him scattered throughout. There's nothing revolutionary here - just a finely tuned character study, with an Oscar-worthy performance from Firth, and '60s style (there's that word again!) to burn. Well worth your time, if you can find it playing at a theater near you.

- John


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