Thursday, February 25, 2010

Review: A Single Man

A Single Man
Dir. Tom Ford
Year: 2009
Aus Rating: M
Running Time: 101mins

The debut film from fashion designer Tom Ford is the cinematic equivalent of an actress with excessive plastic surgery. A Single Man may look perfect, but scratching the surface just a little and I found that the film’s style is the result of too much preening, polishing and enhancing. Ford’s film is an addict for prettiness and in the process resembles an excessively over-designed photo shoot rather than a film.

You can read the rest by clicking over to Trespass Mag and let me know what you think? Were the film's technical aspects a help or a hindrance?

I didn't get to mention it in the review - or, I did, but I had to cut it out due to word limits - but in the part about how overly designed the film is, I made a query regarding the production design. That house that Colin Firth's George lives in is gorgeous, yes, but was anybody else confused by the fact that this gay man in the 1960s lived with his boyfriend in a house made entirely out of glass? Architecturally it was stunning, but a man who so obviously tries to keep his sexuality a secret, I couldn't think of anything sillier than living in a house where anyone could see inside. That just struck me as... off. C (although Firth's performance could probably bump it up to a C+ if I'm feeling generous.)


Dame James said...

I seem to be in the minority, but I felt like over-done sets and photography actually added to A Single Man. I loved how they seemed to act like a protection (or deflection) from George's inner turmoil. The world around him may be unbelievably gorgeous, but that doesn't make George's suffering any less excruciating.

I'm guessing that the all-glass house was some kind of metaphor. Maybe it was a way to show how open their affection and love for each other was in a time when it wasn't approved by society? I don't know, I'm just kinda making it up as I go along ;). I never thought about it before, but I guess it seems a bit out of place.

Glenn Dunks said...

I could understand that it was a metaphore, but George is so obviously hiding his sexuality at his work and from his neighbours (Ginnifer Goodwyn).

Paul Martin said...

I've heard that Firth's performance is wonderful and I'm a fan of Moore, but I don't know if I could drag myself to see Firth playing such a similar role to his recent one in Winterbottom's Genova. I also love Winterbottom, though I didn't think Genova was anything special. Firth was lauded for that role, but I think he has a fairly limited range, and I find it off-putting to see that limited range played over and over again.

Anonymous said...

I've read your review at Trespass and I don't quite agree. I think A Single Man is like a lot of Wong Kar-Wai films: you need to go in there with the right frame of mind, otherwise it's the difference between a masterpiece or becoming really impatient and hating the film and start nit-picking at things like glass houses. George's house is simply just a metaphorical stylistic choice. His partner was an architect, so of course it had to look good. And hey, what is film if not a ticket to enter a fantastical world? Not everything needs to be realistic.

With Abel Korzeniowski’s score, I wouldn't exactly call it 'relentless' and devoid of emotion. I found that it added to the beauty of the whole film as a singular piece, such as when his neighbour's daughter is on the table in the bank in blue shoes, or when George gets out of the car and is greeted with the giant Pyscho poster.

Paul Martin said...

I'm with Michael on this one. I've never been a Firth fan at all, and though this is perhaps his best performance to date, I still thought little of it. His tears reminded me of Penelope Cruz, whose abilities are more of an over-rated party-trick, and don't impress at all. Good, yeah, but not great.

If the film works - and it does for me - it's because of the style, much like a French perfume ad (quoted from Y Kant Goran Rite). Michael's comparison to Wong Kar-Wai is a good one. There's another film-maker where the style is the substance.

Glenn Dunks said...

See, I love style over substance movies or those like Wong Kar-Wai where, as you say, the style is the substance, but I just felt that Tom Ford thought all this style was substance when it really wasn't. It was just closeups of roses and perfectly tailored suits and closeups of cigarette smoke, which would have been fine if I didn't think Ford thought he was being so deep and poetic when he was just being pretty.

I'll take a movie that is overtly beautiful over so many other films that are purposefully ugly just so they can present some deep, depressing thoughts, but A Single Man was a man throwing all sorts of beautiful-sounding notes at the screen and calling it a symphony.