Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Single Man: Grade D


A Single Man (2009)
Colin Firth, Julianne Moore. Co-writer and director Tom Ford.

The stars are two of my favorite actors, which is why I selected this movie, and indeed they both give extremely fine performances, Firth’s perhaps the best I’ve ever seen from him. However the story/screenplay has zero forward momentum, plotwise or characterwise, so fundamentally this picture is extremely boring.

A gay college professor in 1962 Los Angeles (Firth) is grieving the loss of his longtime partner. He does this by walking slowly, as if in a trance, and by gazing into middle distance a lot. He visits his old buddy (Moore) for consolation they have a few drinks and dance in her apartment. He carries a gun in his briefcase, in case he decides to do himself in, you never know (but of course he doesn't, for that would constitute a story line). He ogles some of the young men on the campus to show he still has libido, even in his grief. He wears heavy black plastic eyeglass frames like they did back then so you know he is in 1962. And that’s about it.

There is just nothing going on in this movie except some pretty pictures. What keeps it from complete failure are the extremely good performances by Firth and Moore, and the excellent cinematography and directing. But without either character development or story line, it just does not add up as a movie. It amounts to no more than a random collection of mildly interesting scenes.

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