Ford’s Character Study of A Single Man

At the heart of A Single Man, fashion designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut, is a celebration. It is a celebration of life and unabashed sexuality. While most reviews of this film categorize the film as “a day in the life of a man after his partner dies”, they neglect to tell viewers that the story takes place roughly 8 months after his “partner’s” death. While there is a fair amount of heavy material presented in the film, it does not lose sight of its celebration of the life that these two men had together as George, played by a devastatingly beautiful Colin Firth, tries to find a reason to continue living.
Another issue that I took with people’s descriptions of the film is the use of the word “partner”. I know, I know, it makes Middle America uncomfortable when you start talking about the homos, but it does such a disservice to the story to refer to Jim, George’s lover, as his partner. It’s true that they are also partners having been in a monogamous relationship for 16 years, but the movie focuses just as much on their relationship as it does their love. Unfortunately, there’s little I can do about that as that’s an American neurosis projected on to the film, but let me do what any responsible writer would do and clear it up for readers. George and Jim are lovers first and foremost. Tom Ford does an incredible job of showing his audience that without any hardcore, in-your-face content. All the audience needs is right there in tender displays of affection, like the gentle kiss on the forehead.
However, Tom Ford has the advantage that most Hollywood directors do not in this situation and that is, his relationship with Hollywood. He will always be a fashion designer first and foremost and so when watching A Single Man, you can’t help but feel that Tom Ford is unapologetic. He isn’t caught up in the fear that he’ll never work in Hollywood again for doing his take on a celebration of life, love, and the male form. As a fan of A Single Man, I can safely say that I hope he does work in Hollywood again, but who knows as to that? When thinking of this one can’t help but think of 2005’s Brokeback Mountain which, thanks to its stars, got people noticing homosexuality in the movies. However, what never took with Brokeback Mountain is the fear of admitting these characters were gay. they spent the whole movie fighting it. A Single Man never has a moment’s doubt. It presents its audience with a lover’s kiss between two men in the first shot. This is the celebration of sexuality so many gay men had hoped Brokeback Mountain would be. Although it arrived about 4 years later, it is a welcome change of pace.
In closing, it is Ford’s frank displays combined with brilliant performances from most of the cast that make this film so notable as a celebration of life rather than the bleak portrayal of loss it is frequently seen as. While it does deal with themes of loss and regret, ultimately, it celebrates the life that these two men shared together.

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