Combustible Celluloid
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With: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Jon Kortajarena, Paulette Lamori, Ryan Simpkins, Ginnifer Goodwin, Teddy Sears, Paul Butler, Aaron Sanders, Keri Lynn Pratt, Lee Pace
Written by: Tom Ford, David Scearce, based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood
Directed by: Tom Ford
MPAA Rating: R for some disturbing images and nudity/sexual content
Running Time: 99
Date: 09/11/2009

A Single Man (2009)

3 Stars (out of 4)

'Single' Handed

By Jeffrey M. Anderson

Fashion designer Tom Ford makes his directorial debut with this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel. It's overdirected and slightly precious, but it does capture a very interesting, insulated, interior world for its lead character, George (Colin Firth).

George is a middle-aged English professor who has lost his younger lover, Jim (Matthew Goode) to a car accident. George has a tough time getting up in the morning, but today is different, mainly because he has decided to kill himself. The decision gives George a newfound freedom, however, and he finds himself saying and doing things he wouldn't ordinarily do.

His behavior attracts the attention of an adoring student, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), and after a drunken evening spent with his best friend Charley (Julianne Moore) -- who is also a Londoner relocated to Los Angeles -- George spends a flirtatious evening with Kenny. And of course the evening does not wind up quite as planned.

When he's dealing with actual actors, like Firth, Goode and Moore, director Ford gets some wonderfully intimate moments from them, but the rest of the cast behaves more like models, and simply pose -- or pout -- for the camera. There are tons of weird close-ups and camera effects, but these eventually serve to keep George's world as physically closed off as he is emotionally closed off. It's an effective and sometimes powerful work, though even with awards hype for Firth's excellent performance, it's going to be a hard sell.

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