A Single Man (2010) – 4/5

A really good movie, though I had no idea going into it that it would be the “Brokeback Mountain” of 2009. Boy was I surprised. Heterosexual discomfort aside, I enjoyed it, despite its “showy” cinematography and occasionally overwritten dialogue/narrative. And what a performance from Colin Firth.

I was skeptical of Firth at first. Along with hardly ever being the lead, isn’t he primarily known in cinema for his great love of awkward, emotionally insecure yet attractive and ultimately good-hearted women? He takes an almost 180 degree turn here by playing a classy, older upscale homosexual who has just lost his younger lover of 15 something years. What a contrast.

At first, I had trouble separating him from his other roles, but within a few minutes all my doubts were cast aside, and, by the end of the film, I had trouble seeing him as anything but the character he was portraying. Firth completely reinvents himself here, and well deserves all the attention this film has given him.

Stylistically, the film is a bit of a mess. Some scenes are beautiful, and they work, but others are just too showy for my liking. The cinematography reminded me of “City of God” if the filmmakers of that film has shown some artistic restraint. It’s not terrible, but it is distracting at times, and often unnecessary.

I also thought the narrative was a bit silly at times. It seems like every guy Firth’s character runs into is 1) gay 2) model-esque 3) interested in him sexually. Really? I understand that the film is portraying a heightened sense of reality and all, but come on, don’t insult me.

The ending I thought was also lacking. Not sure how else they could have ended it, but I don’t know, it wasn’t satisfactory given the journey Firth’s character had gone through. I guess it was ironic in some ways, but eh. He should have just stuck to his original plan.

Still, despite these flaws, I enjoyed the film. The parts that worked really worked, and some of the dialogue was quite brilliant. The whole scene near the end of the film between Firth and Julianne Moore was really well done, and pretty successfully explored the complicated relationship between these two in a way you don’t often see in cinema, or anywhere really.

Overall, a really good, if a bit hammy film at times. Oh, and the male nudity was a tad excessive, but I guess it’s understandable given the plot. Still, I’d have preferred less. It was enjoyable, well acted, and mostly nice to look at. And what a great soundtrack. Worth watching.

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