Film & Theatre

Film Review: A Single Man

Text: Manolis Kranakis

The first directorial undertake by Tom Ford proves that what pushed him to cinema was not a well calculated
business move, but a deeply hidden need.

When first released in 1964, ‘A Single Man’ was hailed as the essence of British talent Christopher Isherwood and was regarded the first major novel on the contemporary movement for the liberation of homosexuality which
was starting at the time. The novel made a provocative read that shocked many, not only with its fully guilt free language but also with the agonising honesty that runs throughout the 186 pages. The kind of honesty difficult to transfer to cinema since the heartbreaking confessional narrative of a man who has just lost his companion in an
accident, itself, prevents any attempt of depiction. Tom Ford, however, has always been, amongst other things, a ‘smart’ guy. His decision to follow Isherwood’s novel literally by the book, was decisive for everything ‘A Single
Man’ is or is not. Predestined to boast a distinctive artistic direction (both in reconstructing the ’60s and in costume design, personally curated by Ford) the cinematic universe created by the ‘young’ director aspires to evoke the loneliness of the hero by building a diary of senses, memory and daily routine. If it succeeds, it is not due to the stylized movement of the camera and the sophisticated use of music; a fair but yet unconvincing homage to the work of Wong Kar-Wai. The only reason why ‘A Single Man’ makes a significant film, is because in its core it preserves the boldness of Isherwood’s language; an actor (Colin Firth – Best Actor Award at Venice Film Festival) who carries in his physical interpretation the essence of the novel, none other than the loss of desire, and a finale that is already considered one of the most heartbreaking scenes of film history. Following a tense, overloaded and eventually fake first part, Ford shows in the second half of the film that just like in fashion, love and art, so in life what really matters is what hides behind the obvious.

‘A Single Man’ by Tom Ford is released to Greek cinemas on 21 February. The book by Christopher Isherwood translated to Greek is out from ‘Alexandria’ publishing house.