Wednesday, May 12, 2010
The Case for Singularity USA
Imagine a world in which people wear incredibly stylish clothes, live in ultra fashionable homes, drive super cool cars, everyone is super good looking and everyone loves you or wants to be loved by you. So far, so the Bold and the Beautiful. Now, take that scenario back to the 1960s, remove the histrionics and add a huge dose of depression, and there you have the setting of A Single Man.
Colin Firth stars as George, a professor mourning the loss of his partner. The story follows his exploits on one day in particular as he goes to work, goes to the liquor store, goes to the bank, goes home, and along the way meets old friends and new faces, all the while haunted by sad memories.
It's a very talky, emotional film then, with almost no "action" to speak of - and mercifully, no one is expected to sing - and so Firth is completely suited to the role, and deservedly has won several awards for this performance. He is ably assisted by the wonderful Julianne Moore as his neighbour and long time friend, Charley, as Moore makes an unfortunately brief appearance in a role that appears to be based on a mix of Patsy Stone's hair and Edwina Monoon's luck with men. And the About a Boy boy, Nicholas Hoult, shows up in wide eyed innocent youth form - at first I thought that he had experienced a terrible fake tan job until I realised that the colour vividness in the film changes to reflect George's mood.
In the movie's temporal setting and negative tone, it is very similar to A Serious Man, also about a professor facing a difficult period in his life, though the films are completely different in style: A Single Man shows the 1960s as a period of dignity and refinement, great clothes and taste, while A Serious Man shows a more clinical, orange and beige side to world. These differences highlight the fact that in A Single Man the anxiety is coming from within whereas in A Serious Man it came from the external factors. Because of that difference, A Single Man is the easier film to watch, as George encounters positive signs and portents completely absent in the A Serious Man world.
There was one thing that I thought let the film down, which I won't go into here as it is a plot point and I don't want to put a spoiler in this review. I think one of my fellow attendees said that the film was very true to the book though, so I will not lay the blame for this at the feet of the director. Suffice to say though that the film was, overall, very good, and the music was nowhere near as annoying as I had originally feared from the promo.
Verdict: A slow meditation on the nature of love and loss, or self indulgent navel gazing by someone who needs a good slap and to be told to build a bridge? I tend to fall into the former camp. A Single Man is a slow, quiet film, with every performance brilliant and every thing fashionably stylish. 4 pencil sharpeners out of 5.