“A Single Man” – Life in a Single Day

March 30, 2010 § Leave a comment

"A Single Man", based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood

It’s not often that I want to read the book on which a movie is based after I’ve seen the movie.  If I do take up both forms of entertainment, I read the book first, preferably some time before the movie is released, then see the movie.  Not so with A Single Man.  Having seen the movie, I can’t wait to read Christopher Isherwood’s book.  Here’s why.

A Single Man is directed by fashion designer Tom Ford.  Given this, one could reasonably expect the film to be visually stunning.  It is.  But it’s also so much more.

The film tells the story of one day in the life of English Professor George Falconer, a British ex-pat living in 1962 Los Angeles.  However, it’s not just any day.  It is the day at the end of which George intends to commit suicide.   His long-time partner Jim died suddenly in a car crash some months earlier and, suffering from unspeakable grief, George cannot find a good reason to go on living without him.  Over the course of the day, George prepares for the event itself, and for the necessary details that would be tended to afterward.  And he goes about his normal routine.  He sees his neighbors, teaches a class at the university, picks up gin at the liquor store, and dines with his best friend Charley (Charlotte), whom he has known since his London days.  Everything about this day is the same; and everything is different.

How Tom Ford has chosen to tell this story reflects his artistic sensibility.  How Colin Firth completely inhabits the character George is a marvel.  I’ve been a Firth fan since his Mr. Darcy days.   But here, in this role, he has never been better, as evidenced by his Academy Award nomination, among others.  Even tough-as-nails film critic Manohla Dargis praised Mr. Firth’s performance in her New York Times review.  In supporting roles, Julianne Moore (Charley), Matthew Goode (Jim), and Nicholas Hoult (Kenny, a student of George Falconer) are all excellent.  After seeing movie, I am eager to know how Christopher Ishwerwood created this world in words.

I won’t give up the ending.  Suffice it to say, the film is moving … by turns happy and sad.  As Colin Firth told Oprah, “it’s about falling in love with life again.”  And, perhaps when you’re getting out of bed in the morning, it will make you think: “Am. … Now.”

See it.

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