Last night, I finally got around to watching A Single Man and wish I had seen it on the big screen. Although the script had a numerous problems, the art direction and cinematography made the flick a real treat. And Colin Firth‘s portrayal of the solitude of gay man in the early 1960s struggling with the recent death of his life-companion paralleled Katharine Hepburn‘s portrayal of the solitude of a woman in middle age in the mid-1950s confronting her emotional longings (in Summertime). It really was that good.
Perhaps, it is unfair to fault the film for lacking a traditional narrative. Perhaps that was not its purpose. It sought instead to show what it was like for a man to bear the grief of such a significant loss in a time much different from our own.
Visually it was absolutely stunning.
It did make me feel — as good movies tend to do. And think — as better ones do.
Had I been awake enough last night to write a review, I would have offered a less enthusiastic appreciation of the film than I do today. The plot seem contrived, the ending relationship too ambiguous, some of the dialogue (when Firth’s Falconer was teaching) too politically correct. And it’s tiresome to see gay movies where the filmmakers portray a same-sex relationship in a good light while showing straight ones as flawed (his neighbor/close friend Julianne Moore‘s recollections of her marriage).
All that said, like the Hepburn movie, it does remind us of the power of human relationships. As George says to the Nicholas Hoult‘s Kenny, a student infatuated with him:
You know the only thing that’s made the whole thing worthwhile has been those few times when I’ve been able to really, truly connect with another human being.
Perhaps it was the power of the imagery that has caused the movie to leave such a sweet impression now nearly twenty-four hours after first I saw it. Last night, I considered more its flaws. Today, I remember the images.
And in a visual medium, perhaps that is paramount. And the flick once again does remind us of the importance of relationships.