Can love die when a couple is separated by circumstances beyond their control? In the DVD release of A Single Man, an unhappy man wondered the very same thing in 1962 Los Angeles where certain feelings weren’t talked about or widely accepted.
A Single Man followed English Professor George Falconer (Colin Firth) as he continued to deal with the sudden death of his longtime partner Jim (Matthew Goode) who perished in a car accident eight months ago. Instead of dealing with his grief, George decided to plan his suicide from the beginning to the aftermath that included one last day to get his affairs in order. This day allowed him to experience life like he never had before. He was able to have a random encounter with a gigolo who dressed and moved liked James Dean. If it wasn’t for his plan, Falconer would’ve eagerly spent more time with him. George had also enough time to advise his longtime friend Charley (Julianne Moore) who still harbored unrequited feelings for him to move on with her life. The biggest surprise for George was that he found a kindred spirit in his student Kenny Potter (Nicholas Hoult) after he taught his final class. Kenny appeared to be interested in the much older George for a different matter. Will George find happiness again or go through with his plan?
Sadly, the only real shock about A Single Man was that Firth could be more than just a pretty face. Firth mostly buried his good natured Mr. Darcy charm under drab clothing and expressions, which told the audience more than he would talking about his feelings for the entire length of the film. He gave George a sense of quiet sadness that was almost dangerous because the audience was half expecting him to have a complete nervous breakdown. Firth definitely deserved his Oscar nomination for his controlled performance that proved how life could be beautiful even in times of sadness. Unfortunately, the movie itself was ruined due to an unclear narrative and too much emphasis on random images. Tom Ford gave a decent effort as a director, but he should leave screenwriting to more experience individuals. It’s a shame because the movie had potential in examining why Jim was so important to George that a few flashbacks couldn’t answer.
Verdict: Aside from Firth, A Single Man was a muddled mess from beginning to end.
DVD Score: 2 out of 5 stars (For the movie itself)
4 out of 5 stars (For Firth’s performance alone)
Movie Rating: R
1 Star (Mediocre)
2 Stars (Averagely Entertaining)
3 Stars (Decent Enough to Pass Muster)
4 Stars (Near Perfect)
5 Stars (Gold Standard)