100 minutes

What is so breathtaking about fashion designer Tom Ford's exquisite, devastating adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's acclaimed novel isn't merely that Colin Firth gives the performance of a lifetime. It's that a first-time filmmaker with no prior experience can come roaring out of the gate with a near-flawless masterwork such as this, a perfect match of style, substance, sense and sensibility. What is even more astounding is how mr. Ford manages to pull his affecting threnody of love and loss out of the gay-interest ghetto it could very easily fall into, and turn it into a near universal experience about loneliness, despair, mourning and hope.
     It's not just that every single frame is art directed to within an inch of its existence; it's how Eduard Grau's lush widescreen cinematography imperceptibly bleeds or blooms with colour, depending on the mood required. It's how Leslie Shatz's intrincate sound design fades the passing of time in and out. It's how mr. Ford precisely articulates the tempo and rhythm of his storytelling to release the emotion in the tale of a day in the life of a despondent college professor (mr. Firth) still mourning the death, months earlier, of his lovcr (Matthew Goode, seen in flashbacks). It's how the director manages to ellicit uniformly rich, detailed performances from his cast: Julianne Moore's best friend would be a scene-stealer in any movie, but this is mr. Firth's film, and the bottomless depths of reserve and emotion he brings to the role are the sign of a talent untapped in most of the standard-issue roles he has taken on.
     Even if there wasn't anything else in mr. Ford's elegant, moving film, mr. Firth's performance alone would be worth the admission; thankfully, A Single Man is in the image of its lead's generous, heartbreaking performance.

Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult.
     Directed by Tom Ford; produced by mr. Ford, Chris Weitz, Andrew Miano, Robert Salerno; screenplay by mr. Ford, David Scearce, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man; music by Abel Korzeniowski; additional music by Shigeru Umebayashi; director of photography (DeLuxe, widescreen), Eduard Grau; production designer, Dan Bishop; costume designer, Arianne Phillips; film editor, Joan Sobel.
     A Fade to Black Productions presentation/production, in association with Depth of Field and Artina Films. (US distributor, The Weinstein Company. World sales, IM Global.)
     Screened: distributor advance press screening, UCI El Corte Inglés 12 (Lisbon), January 22nd 2010; DVD, Lisbon, June 18th 2011. 


Popular Posts