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Strong Suit for Gay Marriage

A Single Man (2009)

Eduard Grau/The Weinstein Company

Fashion designer Tom Ford tries his hand at filmmaking with “A Single Man,” an adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s eponymous 1964 novel. Revolving around a middle-aged college English professor who becomes suicidal after a car accident claims his partner’s life, the film in a sense makes an even stronger case for the legalization of gay marriage than did last year’s “Milk.” But whereas Gus Van Sant’s biopic was an impassioned plea for equality, Mr. Ford’s melodrama makes you long for that one true love that seems to elude most mortal souls.

As the inconsolable George Falconer (Colin Firth) contemplates suicide, declines the advances of a striking hustler and comforts a fag-hag divorcee (Julianne Moore) who not so secretly wants to set George straight or so to speak, Mr. Ford intercuts to flashbacks of happier times shared by George and his late partner (Matthew Goode). These vignettes successfully sell us the relationship by presenting ordinary events as cherished memories. The picture would have been incredibly slight without them. Certainly, we haven’t seen many same-sex relationships this normal either in the media or in the sex-driven mainstream gay culture.

What the film does fumble is the relationship between George and a student (Nicholas Hoult) whose gaydar he must have set off. Without giving too much away, the film does make you question whether George is a hopeless romantic or just another gay drama queen. The film also completely glosses over the difficulties gay men must have encountered in the 1960s and the effects those strains might have had on a relationship. Predictably, Mr. Ford seems more preoccupied with production design and other stuff of no consequence, such as sporadically toying with the coloring of the film stock. Some gay men might indeed walk away from this film longing for that unattainable true love, but you get the feeling that others would be bitching about its lack of sex scenes and male frontal nudity.


Opens on Dec. 11 in New York and Los Angeles.

Directed by Tom Ford; written by Mr. Ford and David Scearce, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood; director of photography, Eduard Grau; edited by Joan Sobel; music by Abel Korzeniowski; additional music by Shigeru Umebayashi; production designer, Dan Bishop; produced by Mr. Ford, Chris Weitz, Andrew Miano and Robert Salerno; released by the Weinstein Company. Running time: 1 hour 39 minutes. This film is rated R by M.P.A.A.

WITH: Colin Firth (George), Julianne Moore (Charley), Matthew Goode (Jim), Nicholas Hoult (Kenny) and Jon Kortajarena (Carlos).


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