david hare wrote:
I don't mean to sound like I'm approaching this with some recurring assumption of a double-standard, because I've only ever had this thought when it pertains to this film - but imagine the same plotline with a straight lead character, and Megan Fox [or whoever people think is hot these days] in the role of the kid at the end. There would be absolutely no accolades, this movie would be critically blasted for being a mysogonist masturbatory male fantasy, with a shallow message that a hot chick showing up when you're feeling low makes everything better. The fact that the main character of the film is gay has lent it some sort of credibility with the average "art film" goer, unless you're like me and see a film having a gay character as no different than one with a straight character (and I think the mixed reviews come from a lot of critics looking at it the same way that I did).
Actually the more I think about it I don't think this is a valid argument because it specifically hinges on gender politics and the gender politics in question do not exist between two men. If you saw no difference between the gay and the straight character there would be no assumption the woman is being degraded.
This is both fatuous and beside the point. To supplant the boy with a female actor is to totally ignore the fact the entire film is grounded in the homosexual experience. You're trying to exchange gestalts, and I take offence at the notion. Stick to gender studies if that's what you want to do.
This is not a film about gay people, it's about a homosexual man, and the entire contemporary construction of gay is also irrelevant. You might also note that part of Colin Firth's/George's dynamic since his lover's death is to decline any sexual contact with anyone, as is also obvious with the student. The fact they haven't had sex is unambiguously presented.
Considering the film is also anchored in notions of beauty which themselves are presented in epiphanic reveals with extreme slow motion, saturations and so on, this is also the core the Ford's (and Isherwood's) concern that life throws up moments of revelation, and opportunity which it is your right to acknowledge, and seize, if you can even perceive them. The whole reason I had put off watching this was the suspicion gleaned from most reviewers that this was going to be another hideous "gay" film with everything and everybody in it set up to be as shallow and mindlessly vacuous as in fact most modern gay life is. And of course we all know what shallow queens those fashion designers all are. It was Gary's review that tipped me over to actually get it, and what I find amazing and revelatory is that the very theme of beauty and revelation is something Ford works into the texture of the film, just as it's part of his whole "theme. He gets everything pitch perfect. The formal visuallization of hyperreal beauty, even in tactilit things like patting the dogs seesm to me to be the key to Ford's visual language.
If I were to cite company for A Single Man it would indeed be pictures like In the Mood for Love or Julian Hernandez' superb Mexican film Broken Sky. Or Scott McGehee and David Siegel's The Deep End. But Ford appears to have constructed a style and method and mise en scene that is entirely his own.
Thank you for this post.
My girlfriend and I just watched this begrudgingly, and were completely taken aback by how wonderful it was. We are still talking about it hours later. I hate to do this, but I might as well since all of the best posts I would post have been taken by those already lauding the film: to me, this was the film that everyone thought Brokeback Mountain
was, but wasn't. It hardly deserves the comparison just because both deal with homosexuality, but these films of this magnitude are rare unfortunately (I hope they become more common). I like BM, but I made the exact
criticisms about it as MFunk made about this film. However, I felt at the end, this film, transcended gender. There is more to it than that. There was a tender approach here that I felt really encapsulated 'love' and....... loss. That is what is important here which I think many forget; this film is about loss. Firth is incredibly dynamic while subtle.
Technically too, I loved the hues that mirrored Firth's emotions. I loved the jump editing (though, it did annoy me during one of the first flashbacks when they are kissing in the kitchen), and I thought the score was adequate.
I can't believe that this film is flying under the radar and has the potential to be forgotten. It's incredible.