Friday, January 22, 2010
"A Single Man"
"You must get through this goddamn day."
With this affirmation George begins his day.
College professor George (Colin Firth) lives a tidy, orderly life of silent desperation since the death of his partner of sixteen years. Today George plans to put a tidy, orderly end to it all. He puts his affairs in order and packs his brief case for his last day of work - gun in tow.
"A Single Man," is a singularly beautiful film. Several reviewers have commented on how fashion icon-turned-director Tom Ford's use of style distracts from the film. But style and beauty are really the point. It's all about appearances.
Keeping up appearances was vital to a gay man in the early sixties. The restraints of society didn't allow men to express deep sentiments. George must contain his emotions even when he is told that his life partner has died in a car accident and that he isn't invited to the funeral because it's "only for the family." Actor Colin Firth gives us a glimpse of his pain while struggling to keep it at a socially acceptable level. Director Tom Ford cues us in on the depth of his feelings through music.
But today George has nothing to lose, so we see hints of his true sentiments. He lingers on the scent while petting a stranger's pup. He raves about the secretary's beauty. For the first time, he shares his thoughts with his students about how people are afraid of those who are invisible to them - like the Jews. George is invisible in his own life. But he is still too guarded to share that with his students.
I'm afraid Tom Ford made George a bit too guarded. I think I would have felt more for George if I had seen a deeper connection between George and his lover. But George's memories are shallow. That's really a shame because this is a film about the importance of human connections. Throughout the film, I hoped that George would find the connection he needed to make life worth living.
"A Single Man," is a deep film about appearances and our need for connection. It is an important film because it is still sadly relevant. Hopefully, it will help us connect with the beauty in all of us.