Saturday, January 16, 2010

Movie Review: A Serious....oops Single Man

Had a little surprise today. Heading to the movie theater, I bought my ticket expecting to see the Coen Brother's movie. I had seen previews a couple of times for A Serious Man. I made it just in time missing some of the upcoming previews when the feature movie starts. As a side note, Consolidated Theaters in Hawaii changed their trailer for the chain during their 75th anniversary. It was a big deal at the time getting all sorts of press. This year, they have been running the chain trailer for 18 years. Hard to believe....Anyway, back to the movie review.

Eyes adjusting for the sudden darkness I located a seat and the starting credits start to roll and on the screen is a man struggling in water. It's obvious that he's not wearing anything. I scratch my head and then see the title. It took me a moment to realize that I was in the wrong movie. It's not that I went into the wrong theater, I just got my wires crossed with the titles as they are very close and I didn't pay attention. I was watching A Single Man. Single...serious...six letters vs seven letters both beginning with the letter s, an easy mistake to understand.

The man is no longer in the water but in a snowy field where next to an overturned car is the body of a dead man. The man walks through the snow and kisses the dead man on the lips. He then wakes up from the dream. He gets up and starts a narration. It sounds bleak and the colors are muted. He starts to get ready for the day and that it's going to be a chore for him to make it through the day. In a series of flash backs, we find out that it was his partner for 16 years Jim has died in a car crash eight months earlier. It's November 1962 with the Cuba Missile crisis in full motion. Being a homosexual male is something that society is not willing to confront. The man, George (Collin Firth) is a professor of English at a college in the Los Angeles area.

When the phone rings as he's dressing George flashes back to the call when he learns that Jim (Matthew Goode) has been killed. The caller says that he shouldn't have called George but thought he had a right to know that Jim had died. When George suggested catching a plane he's told that the service is for family only. The grief is obvious. As he packs his satchel for the day he puts in a gun that has no bullets.

As George goes through the day the look on his face is that of a lost man. Before he leaves his house he has an anxiety attack. When his house keeper arrives she says he doesn't look good. He says he's fine. At work one of his male students Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) talks to him after class and says that he doesn't look good. George says he's fine. He has dinner with his best friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and she say he doesn't look good. George says he's fine. As we follow George through the day it's apparent that he knows that he's not fine.

That night when he's having dinner with his best female friend Charley, the colors become bright. She talks about her situation with her ex-husband and wonders what could have been between the two of them had George not met Jim after the end of the second world war. What could have been but would not be between them.

Over the course of the day as George interacts with people they are concerned for him but he neither seems to want to or need to talk to them. He really doesn't have an outlet for his emotions. Even though they ask, would they really be able to comprehend what he is going through? Would they really want him using their shoulder to cry on with the circumstances of his life?

Tom Ford directed this as his first movie. He's a clothing designer who showcases his designs via George's wardrobe. Just as the use of color and texture is important in fashion, he used the textures and colors to help tell this story. The colors through the day are dull, drab and not in sharp focus. When George is having his flash backs, images are in focus and colorful just as he has a few moments in his day where he is enjoying life images are bright and colorful, but they fade back into a textured drab blur when those moments pass.

There is talk of Colin Firth receiving an Oscar nomination for his portrayal of George. The nomination would be fully justified for Best Male Actor. Seeing the emotions when George receives the call or watching his zombie like emotions as he tries to make it through the day you feel for him. While watching such raw emotions and some actions are tough to take, I was glad I got the titles mixed up and ended up watching A Single Man.

The movie is rated R for disturbing images and sexual/nudity content and runs 101 minutes.