Friday, December 18, 2009

A Single Man

Colin Firth and Julianne Moore
Our friend Philip saw a preview screening of A Single Man, the first movie directed by Tom Ford of Gucci design fame, and suggested we see it pronto so we hoofed up to the Chelsea cineplex the day after it opened. The movie is based on the book by Christopher Isherwood, the gay English writer who settled in California and wrote, among other things, Goodbye to Berlin, which became the basis of the Broadway musical Cabaret.

I won't tell a lot about the plot except to say the main character is a gay man. The Chelsea cineplex was showing the movie every hour on the hour, and when we went the theater was completely packed with gay men, not an empty seat in the house. Well if you can't do that in Chelsea, where can you?

I would describe it as art film; quiet, slow, beautiful, not a lot of talking, then a lot of talking. When it started it reminded me of a Fellini movie. Though the movie is filmed in color it almost seems like it's in black and white. In it I spotted Richard Buckley, a journalist and Tom Ford's partner, whom I knew back in the day. Colin Firth is George, the single man, and though you may have seen him in Bridget Jones's Diary and Pride and Prejudice, it's though you see him here for the first time. He gives a deeply nuanced performance which yesterday received a Golden Globe nomination.

As befits Tom Ford, the style in this movie is really fantastic. Set in 1963, almost everything, including the clothes and the interiors, is cast in neutrals – greys, browns, white, black. Colin Firth has had a Tom Ford makeover - thin body, handsome haircut, big black glasses, beautiful sharp suits, white French cuff shirts with elegant cuff links. Though George is a college English professor presumably living on a professor's salary, he lives in a gorgeously designed mid-century modern house and drives a swanky Mercedes. President Kennedy is heard on the radio so we are in the same time frame here as Mad Men – and the dashing main character in the grey flannel suit. It's interesting how that moment in history is now at the forefront of popular culture and style.

The amazing Julianne Moore plays Charley, George's English friend.

She is in a relatively short scene but she's one of those actresses who you absolutely cannot take your eyes off of. She too has been nominated for a Golden Globe. TD used to run into Julianne Moore regularly in the bakery on Jane Street; unfortunately, I never had the pleasure. In this movie, the makeup on her eyes is intricate and complex, and her red hair is set in great swoops which swirl around her head, defying gravity. Her fanciful artifice contrasts with her somewhat heartbreaking situation.

Practically the only color in the movie is found in Charley's house. It's entry hall is filled with orange trees and exotic orchids, and her boudoir features romantic print fabrics and soft textures.

The whole movie really is an eyeful. I've been talking about this a lot on the blog recently, but you really see a simplicity here which is an inspiration, the elegance of a well-tailored suit with a white shirt and beautiful cuff links and a solid tie that matches the suit – a style first adopted by Cary Grant. When we got home from the movie, I picked up a magazine and saw an ad for a Tom Ford fragrance, picturing the man himself in a grey suit, grey tie, white shirt and silver cuff links.

It's a Tom Ford world, we just live in it.

Watch the trailer of A Single Man:

I came across an interview on The Daily of Tina Brown talking to Tom Ford. Miss Bell enjoyed it too.

Here is Tina Brown's interview with Tom Ford – it's good:

Tom Ford: "If you can visualize it, you can do it."


Errant Aesthete said...


Wonderful review. I have long admired Colin Firth and the thought of pairing him with the wonderfully talented Julianne Moore under the scrupulously tasteful direction of Tom Food was inspired.

It is clear from your words that you praise the qualities of simplicity, nuance, and restraint, traits that are sadly absent in today's culture of exaggeration and vulgarity. Could this be the beginnings of a resurgence? I hope so.

Bart Boehlert said...

EA, we can only hope! :)

Anonymous said...

nice pictures. thanks for sharing the movie's information...i liked it... you can watch A single man movie from this website..

The romantic query letter and the happy-ever-after said...

Mr. Ford is a rear talent and I'm in awe of his capacity to create. Your review is brilliant in fact its just the sort of read one would find in the new yorker.
You have a lovely day.