“The jury was unanimous,” the award’s originator Daniel Casagrande told AFP…”They decided to give no special mention to any other movie” among the 14 under consideration by the five-member panel, explaining that they were underscoring “the importance of the film and the gap between ‘A Single Man’ and the others.”
(As our friend Joao points out, the Venice ‘Queer Lion’ and Berlin’s equivalent ‘Teddy Bear’ make a fabulous couple of wild things on the gay festival circuit.)
Critics are being systematically seduced. Screendaily swoons:
Fashion designer Tom Ford gets it spectacularly right first time round in his directorial debut, A Single Man. This adaptation of the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood about a gay British college professor in LA coping with the death of his partner is both stylistically assured and quietly moving as it charts a day in a life that has been scooped out but also spiritualised by grief and loss. It also represents a quantum leap for Colin Firth, who gives his most nuanced, compelling performance to date in the lead role.
…[Julianne] Moore is a worthy support to Firth as a lonely, gin-tippling woman who is still in love with her best friend (they had a brief sexual relationship many years before) and torn between sympathy for him and regret about what might have been if he hadn‚Äôt turned into a ‚Äúfucking poof‚Äù. The film is good at evoking and sparking such complex emotions, but it resonates above all because of the way it turns a single man‚Äôs single day into a spiritual journey from despair to transfiguration.
Variety notes the frothy sizzle of chemistry between Firth and Moore, as well:
After a chaste afternoon encounter with a yet another gorgeous man (Jon Kortajarena), clearly a hustler looking for trade, George makes his way to the house of his friend Charley (Julianne Moore) for dinner that evening. An old friend from Blightly whom George once slept with, as flashbacks reveal, now-dipsomaniac divorcee Charley still can’t accept that George, whom she knows is gay, will never want a “normal” married life with her, despite their rich friendship. Scene in which she makes what is presumably the latest in a long line of drunken passes at him is a classic, demonstrating extraordinary emotional nuance from Firth and Moore, both of whom firmly grasp the best roles either has had in some time.
The reviews are so good, it was hard to decide which quotes to pull for the main page. More lavish praise, after the cut.
It‚Äôs no surprise that the feature film directing debut of fashion designer Tom Ford is a thing of heart-stopping beauty. He celebrates the male form with a sensual reverence. He uses colour with the visual articulacy of Wong Kar Wai and frames his shots with elegance and wit. It looks like a Wallpaper magazine photo shoot styled by Douglas Sirk. But what is a little more unexpected, certainly for those who were suspicious of Ford‚Äôs background in the ephemeral world of fashion, is that this is no frothy, throwaway piece of pretty silliness. Rather it‚Äôs a work of emotional honesty and authenticity which announces the arrival of a serious filmmaking talent. There will be critics who will be unable to get past the director‚Äôs background, but rest assured: Tom Ford is the real deal.
In the role of George, Colin Firth gives one of the finest, most affecting performances of his career. Two moments stand out: a flashback to the fateful telephone call which told him of his lover Jim‚Äôs death. The camera rests steadily on his face as his world crumbles. It‚Äôs a devastating piece of acting. And there‚Äôs a lovely little detail later in the film ‚Äì George buries his face in the fur of a terrier puppy, recapturing the sense memory of doggy smells and happier days spent with Jim and their own pets. More than anything, it‚Äôs Ford‚Äôs eye for evocative details like this that makes A Single Man such an impressive debut.
More from Variety:
Like the speck of sand that seeds a pearl, it’s the tiny fleck of kitsch at the heart of “A Single Man” that makes it luminous and treasurable, despite its imperfections. An impressive helming debut for fashion designer Tom Ford, who co-wrote the script with David Scearce, pic freely adapts Christopher Isherwood’s seminal novel set in Los Angeles, circa 1962, in which a college prof (Colin Firth), grieving for his dead lover, contemplates death. Sterling perfs from a tony cast rep a selling point, but the film’s ripely homoerotic flavor will make finding lovers in the sticks more difficult.
Based on Christopher Isherwood’s 1964 novel of the same name, A Single Man is an ambitious literary adaptation (Ford has written the screenplay as well as directing) that uses the backdrop of Los Angeles during the Cuban missile crisis to tell a tale of a British professor, George Falconer, trying to come to terms with the death of his lover. As the melancholic teacher, Firth gives his best performance in years. He clearly revels in playing the distanced Englishman struggling to get in touch with his emotions. “I like being cold and wet,” he says in one scene. “I’m English.”
…For the most part Falconer spends his day thinking about Jim (Goode), the love he lost in a car crash. The opening scene is a heavily stylised look at the scene of the accident with Firth waltzing slowly through the snow before bending down over the body and attempting to give Jim the kiss of life. It may not have revived the bloodied face but it set pulses racing in the audience. As did a scene in which Firth frolics naked in the sea. The actor may be approaching 50 but you wouldn’t know it. Could this be the film which will finally eclipse the memory of his white-shirted Mr Darcy emerging from the lake?
A Single Man makes an interesting double-feature with this year’s other literate mid-century romance, An Education. I’d love to see Colin Forth and Julianne Moore shake up the Best Actor and Supporting Actress categories with some 1960’s gay glam from the American side of the pond.