A Single Man - A Haunting Gem (IANS Film Review;Rating:****)

Film: 'A Single Man'; Director: Tom Ford; Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nocholas Hoult, Matthew Goode; Rating: ****

Film: 'A Single Man'; Director: Tom Ford; Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nocholas Hoult, Matthew Goode; Rating: ****

People walk into our lives, share a few good laughs and leave. Or worse, they die. And we live on, to be haunted by their memories. Most are strong enough to move on. A few find it impossible to live without the ones they loved. 'A Single Man' is a hauntingly beautiful film about one day in the life of one such man who suffers from the loss of a loved one.

After the death of his boyfriend Jim (Matthew Goode) of 16 years, George (Colin Firth) is haunted by his memories. His dull life as a professor of English is made colourful by the memories of his beloved. Yet, it is these memories that bind him down, not allowing him to move on. And on this day, George decides to end his life.

We follow George through his day, as he teaches a culturally uninterested group of students, rebukes a James Dean like wannabe actor, has conversation with a student who is different from the rest and finally dines with his friend Charley (Julianne Moore).

Like a calm ocean, there isn't much happening at the surface of this film, but below it is a thriving universe. As George tries unsuccessfully to go beyond the loss of his beloved, we see our lives mirrored in his loss. And like him we too live in our few moments of 'absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think.' And like him we try to cling to these moments that pull us back into the present, but fade away.

'A Single Man' is a deceptively simple film. In the course of its duration, it touches upon multiple issues: loss, grief, fear, reality, prejudice, homosexuality, love and redemption. And like good cinema that is meant only to ask questions not answer them, it leaves the window open for audiences' interpretation making it a film that soars above the usual din.

It handles homosexuality with a sensitivity rare in cinema, neither sensationalizing nor patronizing the issue. Instead, in painting a homosexual couple normally, it tells us that often those we consider 'different' are not so different after all. And that it is not like Charley who asks George if his relationship is a substitute to a 'real' relationship. She confesses however, that it is the jealousy of never having a loving relationship like George and Jim that made her say it.

'A Single Man' is a meditation on one main emotion - loss, and its paralyzing nature. A haunting melody on violin by Abel Korzeniowski (for which he won a Golden Globe) and very much like the one in Wong Kar Wai's tale of unrequited love - 'In The Mood For Love', accentuates this sense of crushing sorrow and hopelessness.

Debutant director Tom Ford, famous for his turnaround of almost bankrupt fashion brand Gucci into a $10 billion empire, shows his magic touch in cinema. The film, based on Christopher Isherwood's novel was nominated for a Golden Lion at the Venice Film Festival, and won Colin Firth an Academy Award Nomination for best actor.

'A Single Man' is one of those beautiful films that usually never make it to Indian theatres. It will be a shame if you let it pass without a viewing.

ALSO READ: Agastya Nanda breaks silence on love life: 'I'm a one-woman kind of man

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