A Single Man Film Review by Sam

Well, what to say about A Single Man? Although most wouldn’t classify this film as an art-house film, in my professional opinion, plainly speaking: it is.

A Single Man Poster

Let me just say, I had a very frustrating viewing of this film. For the entire first half of the film, the speakers were playing at a level quieter to the volume I have my television set to back at home. This meant that I struggled to hear a lot of what was happening, and every time someone ate a chip or rustled a packet of confectionary, you couldn’t hear a thing. The second issue was this large humming/buzzing noise that came into the movie about a third of the way in. This meant in any scenes that were meant to be silent for effect, I heard this constant drone, and I was pulled out of my watching experience. Very frustrating!

Onwards to the review.

It’s a very different type of film, not so much in the story that it tells, but more so in the way that the story is told. By that I mean the techniques that were put in place to evoke emotion, to grasp audience members and to delve into what could be considered a strange film on many proportions.

Let me begin with the cinematography. Yes, it was good in parts, but I could only deal with it in small portions. I’m not sure if this film was filmed on film (yes I know I just used the word film three times in the space of five words), or if it was shot on digital, but either way, there was a large amount of grain in more than a few scenes. Usually, I enjoy a bit of grain, and I think that it adds a certain realistic aspect and tone – but too much can get distracting, as was the case with A Single Man.

For a directorial debut, Tom Ford did a good job, but you can tell he will only get better from here. One thing I would like to comment on was Ford’s use of the flashbacks, and how he portrayed them. This element was really all over the place. Some flashbacks were more saturated in colour, some had the same colouring as the rest of the film, and some were in black and white. I wasn’t sure what Ford’s intentions were for doing this, and it had me confused. Other than that, Ford did fine, and his direction served its purpose well.

I would like to make a comment on the editing and the way the audio was incorporated. Firstly, there were a few jump-cuts that looked intentional, but just felt out of place, which therefore came to me as a distracting feature. Additionally, there were some scenes where the audio cut back to just one sound – let me explain. So one scene in which this takes place is when Colin Firth’s character breaks down and runs through the rain to Julianne Moore’s characters’ house. During this scene, no footsteps running through the rain can be heard, no panting from Colin Firth’s character, no knock on the door and no comforting voice of Julianne Moore’s character – only the heavy rain falling down. At first I thought the cinema’s speakers were playing up again, but then I realised it was a deliberate technique the director had used, and I’m still not too sure why. Again, it was a distracting feature, and had me somewhat frustrated.

To me, the story was not that interesting, save for very few elements. It developed very slowly, and it wasn’t til the end that I felt some sort of satisfaction.

The only real element that saved this film for me was the acting of Colin Firth. Firth delivers one of the greatest performances of his career, and shows such immense emotion that it creates a great deal of sympathy within the audience. Firth proves that he is one of the greats, and he is still got a lot more in his career to come – and he garnered himself with an Academy Award nomination. The supporting cast were so-so, some were great (Julianne Moore), some were good (Matthew Goode), and some were a little on the corny side (Nicholas Hoult).

Colin Firth in A Single Man

Colin Firth delivers a great performance in A Single Man

So, to briefly wrap up, it wasn’t a film that jumped out of the screen and grabbed me, it was a little strange, and the technical elements were a little too distracting. Colin Firth made this film ‘pass’ in my opinion, and so I give it 2.5

2 and a Half Film Reels

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