A Single Man

How Tom Ford uses colour to paint a beautiful, multi-layered picture in his 2009 directorial debut, A Single Man.

“Sometimes, awful things have their own kind of beauty.”

Between Carol, Moonlight and A Single Man, I’m starting to wonder if absolutely stunning cinematography will be a prerequisite for every great LGBT-themed film from now on.

The use of colour here is nothing short of sublime. The film’s very self-aware of this fact, even going so far as feature a scene in which Colin Firth’s George and Nicholas Hoult’s Kenny discuss the meaning behind different colours (of pencil sharpeners). The yellow/beige tone that dominates much of the film’s runtime is representative of George’s tiresome, monotonous life. The screen is lit up by warm reds whenever he forms a human connection – indicative of the lust or excitement that’s sadly been missing from his life of late. And finally, there’s a single, beautifully shot swimming sequence that douses the film in a deep and luminous blue – a colour that Kenny equates with spirituality.

The way in which Tom Ford’s lens transitions between these hues is masterful. It’s all subtly executed and yet incredibly striking. He’s quite literally painting a beautiful tapestry out of George’s emotions.The visual artistry on display is hardly surprising, given Ford’s reputation in the fashion industry. The multi-talented director/designer’s eye for a striking aesthetic is evident in both this and his sophomore effort, Nocturnal Animals.

While I found the latter feature very beautiful to look at, it lacked that vital human connection that ended up making A Single Man so special. For all this film’s visual splendour, its most endearing quality is its moments of love and kinship. Firth is at his peak here, mirroring his director’s unusual blend of subtlety and style with a captivating central performance. There are some magnificent supporting turns from Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode and particularly Julianne Moore, which together help forge this film’s warm, beating heart beneath its cold and depressing exterior. And the overall viewing experience is exquisite.

4.5 Stars

Random Thoughts

How much do we have to pay Tom Ford to direct a Bond movie? I mean, he already designs 007’s suits. It wouldn’t have to be too heavy on action – picture this: a stylish but minimalistic Bond that retains all the glitz and glamour of previous instalments… with a little less ‘splosions.


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