Thoughts on “A Single Man”

OK, it’s been a week since I saw A Single Man (with Wayne Hoffman when I was in New York, at the Angelika in SoHo) and despite all its design gloriousness, I haven’t been able to like it more in the ensuing days. For me, I think the problem is character identification, or more precisely, the lack of it – SPOILER ALERT STOP READING NOW IF YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW STUFF – it’s just damn hard to feel sorry for a guy who seems to have everything, yet is for some reason going to chuck it all in a suicide. I mean, successful handsome professor pretty much has all the beautiful boys and girls lusting after him, he’s got this amazing mid-century glass house near the beach, wonderful friends, what I would call a pretty enviable life. His problem seems to be that he misses his boyfriend way too much (handsome younger BF died in a car accident several months prior to the action in the movie) so he’s going to punish himself by taking his own life. MMM K. ?

Even though during this time period the closet was a prerequisite pretty much for everyone, that is not even much of an issue here as the main character (Colin Firth) seems to be surrounded by mostly very supportive individuals. He’s not even persecuted, for heaven’s sake. Which makes the motivation even than much harder to fathom. So instead of being worried, anxious that our hero is going to die I was thinking, “well, I’m really kind of sick of this self-pitying wimpy character, the sooner he croaks the sooner this movie will be over and we can go get some lunch.”

Sorry about that. Bitchy, I know. Other than that, the movie looked great, every man in 1962 LA was apparently lean and hairless, and fetishized smoking. Something about an open mouth with curled smoke in it that does it for us. Also, I did enjoy scenes at a beach bar that must have been inspired by The Friendship in Santa Monica Canyon, where of course Christopher Isherwood (who wrote the novel the movie is based on) and Don Bachardy lived – and probably hung out. I certainly did after many epic beach debaucheries in the 80s (but that’s another post, something about beer and navels).

And let’s not forget the wonderful mohair sweater the young man (Nicholas Hoult) who’s pursuing his professor gets to wear in several scenes. Kind of miss those and I certainly am old enough to remember when they were all the shit.  A Single Man hugely benefits from Julianne Moore’s scenes, as she lights up the brooding screen whenever she’s on it.

Not to discourage you from going, by all means do so and support independent film. From what I understand Tom Ford used his own coin to make this film, and that is a huge accomplishment in itself. I just want to see Colin Firth smile.

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~ by jimarnoldla on December 20, 2009.

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