Film: A Single Man
Release date: February 12, 2010 (US release was 2009)
Director: Tom Ford
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult
It’s incredible to think that Tom Ford’s “A Single Man” is his directorial debut. You would expect a film this stylistically unique; well shot, well-acted, well written, beautifully scored and above all else masterfully crafted, from a seasoned veteran of filmmaking, rather than a first timer, best known for his career in fashion.
The film follows a widower (Firth) going through a midlife crisis of sorts. After losing his partner in an accident eight months’ prior, he falls into a depressive slump. The film follows his life during the course of a day, with flashbacks inserted to add a sense of understanding about the relationship he had with Jim (Matthew Goode) and how it came about.
The performances in the film are amazing all around, with each actor adding so much depth and nuance to their characters. The standout is Firth, who adds so much to George as a character, giving him complexities and quirks that make him feel fully fleshed out and provide an image of a man who is deeply troubled, yet endlessly fascinating.
Julianne Moore, as Charlotte, didn’t receive much in the way of accolades for this film. This is unfortunate as her character, despite not having as much screen time, is deeply intriguing. Charlotte clearly has a troubled past and a lot going on, underneath the surface. We see this through subtle facial expressions, despite how she attempts to carry herself. These are sentiments that apply to the rest of the cast and it’s interesting to think that this is a film that only has around four characters, with everyone else in the film being too minor to mention.
The brilliant use of the soundtrack, used sparingly and only appearing at a few key points within the film, mostly comprised of beautifully orchestrated arrangements. One scene in particular, which follows Firth through his university campus, had a stunningly melancholic violin track playing that makes the scene and gives its lack of dialogue or sound so much depth, saying everything through the score.
The costume design, as you would expect, is amazing. You find out a lot about a character from their choice of clothing: for example, George is uptight and likes to keep things private, and as such wears a non-distinct, well-made suit, whereas Carlos (Jon Kortajarena) is down to earth and natural, wearing a simple white shirt/black jeans combination, that presents him as average and casual.
The most impressive aspect of this film, especially considering the fact it is Ford’s directorial debut, is the use of colour and the way it changes shot to shot. Many scenes in the film have muted grey colour palettes and seamlessly transition into a more vibrant and visually appealing aesthetic. The intent behind this thematically is obvious: it signifies George’s state of mind at these moments in the film. The cinematography by Eduard Grau is fantastic, utilising colour and iconography perfectly (it makes sense Grau is credited as being a part of the team behind Her).
Overall the film stands alongside Reservoir Dogs and Being John Malkovich as one of the most impressive feature debuts for any director and despite Ford only having made one film since, he laid the foundation for a great career and body of films to come…