Friday, September 11, 2009

The word from Venice: rave reviews for A Single Man

Based on Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel, A Single Man "depicts one day in the life of George, a gay middle-aged Englishman who works as a college professor in Los Angeles and whose lover, Jim, has recently died." [Wiki] The film, directed by Tom Ford had its world premier earlier today in Venice.

Emma Pritchard Jones from Grazia:

Should Tom Ford have stuck to designing his impeccable Gucci suits? Not if “A Single Man’ is anything to go by. The screenplay – which Ford co-wrote, produced and directed – could win more than the Best Dressed award at the Venice Film Festival. That’s already in the bag for sure – from the moment Colin Firth strides onto the screen in Ford’s trademark black, his 50-something professor character George is turned out like an Italian billionaire. We follow a day in the life of George, some months after the death of his gay partner of sixteen years. It’s set in LA but Firth doesn’t do American – instead he’s the perfect stereotype of an English gentleman, silently devastated by his loss.

Ford should be praised for making a film which isn’t just pleasing to the eye – gay or straight, George’s predicament speaks straight to the soul. The only problem is, his surroundings are so perfect you’ll be mourning his sorrow one moment, and coveting his lampshades the next.

In Contention's Guy Lodge says this is Colin Firth's "finest screen work to date":

But just as you’re tempted to dismiss the film as a gorgeous vanity exercise, it reveals a keen beating heart beneath the decor — and the match of Ford’s precise sensibility to Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 literary examination of the effect of grief on an overly compartmentalized life begins to make perfect sense.

In a graceful, meticulous performance that easily ranks as his finest screen work to date — and merits serious awards consideration — Colin Firth plays George, a British academic living in Los Angeles who finds his life slowing to an impasse as he struggles to recover from the death of his lover Jim (Matthew Goode). As he bides his time with increasingly indifferent teaching and melancholy get-togethers with his boozy friend and neighbor Charley (a tart, affecting miniature from Julianne Moore), the film follows George through a single day, wherein a key life decision gradually veers off-course.

It’s a spare, moving narrative of only-connecting, through which Ford initiates larger enquiries into sexuality, loneliness and etiquette: it’s easy to read Firth’s intriguingly opaque characterization as a mirror for Ford’s own personal and social insecurities.

Wendy Ide from Times Online praises Tom Ford:’s a work of emotional honesty and authenticity which announces the arrival of a serious filmmaking talent. There will be critics who will be unable to get past the director’s background, but rest assured: Tom Ford is the real deal.

Isherwood’s novel...unfolds predominantly through an interior monologue, a device which is notoriously tricky to transfer to the big screen without resorting to pages of cumbersome voice-over. Ford sidesteps this by keeping the narration to a minimum and instead giving us vivid little glimpses into George’s bruised psyche with some well-chosen flashbacks.

In the role of George, Colin Firth gives one of the finest, most affecting performances of his career.
The film's new stylish trailer (via ONTD!) is below.

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