SICK SAD WORLD

Review: A Single Man

Posted in Fuck yeah! by Nancy on May 18, 2010

I’ve just returned from watching A Single Man. I went to see it on short notice so didn’t prepare myself to be so overwhelmed by a superb treatment of a sensitive story. Apart from being deeply moving, the aesthetics were also lovely.

Tom Ford, after spending a career focusing our eyes on women’s bodies, proves a dab hand at turning our gaze on the masculine form. So expressive is his technique with the camera that we can feel George’s (Colin Firth’s) pain/love/lust through the objects of his affection, their beauty masterfully teased out before the lens.

The other thing that saves this movie from being another banal love story is the treatment of the female character, played by Julianne Moore. As a divorced woman in the 1960s, when the story is set, she also struggles to find meaning in a society that emphasises marriage and heterosexuality.

But I find it interesting that her character is portrayed as more pathetic than Firth’s – she obviously needs and depends on him, but he has no use for her. George, although gay, still has more privilege than her because he is closeted and can pass as straight. She affirms this by telling him to move on with his life because all doors are still open to him.

I also like that although it can be called a ‘gay film’ (in that touches on issues significant to queer people such as ‘invisibility’, shame and illegitimacy), it can also be a watched as a universal love story. The politics of love aside, it is a sensitive and fresh look at the pain of loss and loneliness and struggle for meaning. And Ford thankfully doesn’t try to package loose ends up in a tidy one-size-fits-all message, which always ticks my boxes.

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