A Single Man

A Single Man

****

As much as I enjoyed the 2008 Best Picture nominee “Milk,” it didn’t really work for me intellectually. I disagree with the notion that political activism is the solution to the problems that gay people face.

The harsh truth is that gay people are invariably more likely to suffer from loneliness, self-hatred, and estrangement from their families. It is completely unfair, but there isn’t a thing the government can do to make the situation better.

“A Single Man” is a superb, insightful film about one gay man’s tortured existence. Colin Firth plays George, an English professor at a humble Los Angeles college in 1962.

George’s life took a terrible turn for the worse when his boyfriend of 16 years died in a car accident. George is still devastated by the loss and is stuck in the past, going through the motions of life rather than really living it.

There are some powerful scenes early in the film where George sits alone in his house and observes the family next door. Without a single word, Firth clearly communicates the emptiness George feels as he watches people who get to enjoy excitement and normalcy that he can never experience.

George plans on killing himself at the end of the day. But not before he has a little fun. George shares some cigarettes and conversation with a Spanish hustler. He gets drunk and dances with his best friend (Julianne Moore).

Finally, he finishes off the night with an unexpected and adventurous date with the smartest and best-looking student in his class.

“A Single Man” is my kind of drama. It doesn’t shy away from the dark side of life: death, sadness, loneliness. But the film isn’t gloomy or morbid. It shows that life is filled with little joys and pleasures that even an unhappy person can appreciate.

Slowly, organically, it becomes clear that “A Single Man” isn’t depressing at all. It simply follows one wonderful day in the life of a guy who doesn’t have too many of them. The film is uplifting and life-affirming in a way I was not expecting.

This is an amazingly self-assured debut by first-time director Tom Ford. He exhibits subtlety and restraint at every turn.

It was such a pleasant surprise to find that the film has no political agenda whatsoever. The urge to blame other people for your problems is a childish and unproductive vice that neither Ford nor George is guilty of.

“A Single Man” is a powerful, beautifully crafted, unexpectedly uplifting drama. It is the best movie I have seen in ages.

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