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A Single Man(2009)
In Los Angeles 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis George Falconer, a 52 year old British college professor is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner, Jim. George dwells on the past and cannot see his future as we follow him through a single day, where a series of events and encounters, ultimately lead him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend Charley, a 48 year old beauty who is wrestling with her own questions about the future. A young student of George's, Kenny, who is coming to terms with his true nature, stalks George as he feels in him a kindred spirit. A romantic tale of love interrupted the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.
For more about A Single Man and the A Single Man Blu-ray release, see A Single Man Blu-ray Review published by Martin Liebman on July 10, 2010 where this Blu-ray release scored 3.5 out of 5.
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Matthew Goode, Ginnifer Goodwin, Lee Pace
Director: Tom Ford
» See full cast & crew
A Single Man Blu-ray Review
An engaging Drama earns a solid high def release from Sony.
Reviewed by Martin Liebman, July 10, 2010
For the first time in my life I can't see my future. Every day goes by in a haze. But today, I have decided, will be different.
Longtime fashion mogul and now out-of-nowhere Director Tom Ford has crafted a wonderful film in his feature debut, A Single Man. The picture boasts an Academy Award nomination for Actor Colin Firth (Love Actually) and a supporting cast to die for in Julianne Moore (Chloe), Nicholas Hoult, and Matthew Goode; not bad at all for a director's first movie out of the gate, but Ford's picture works beyond its splendid cast. It's a contemplative and sorrowful film, but at the same time it crafts an aura of hopefulness out of overlying despair. Visually, Ford's movie uses shadow and color to strong, if not a bit too obvious and distracting, effect. It's also brilliantly paced; Ford keeps his audience emotionally engaged, but at the end of the day, it's Firth's performance that overshadows all else and is the driving force behind making A Single Man a singular achievement.
For the past eight months, English-born but Los Angeles-based college professor George Falconer (Firth) wakes up every day a man in shambles. His longtime partner Jim (Goode) died suddenly in an automobile accident, leaving George a single man living day-to-day with only the memories of his past life and the pains of his present to see him through the day. George's goal is only to make it from one day to the next, but that's about to change. He's chosen today -- Friday, November 30, 1962, to be exact -- to be the end of his suffering. George purchases ammunition for an old revolver and plans to end his life with the weapon. As he contemplates death, his day will lead him towards a series of new revelations about life. He strikes up a sudden relationship with one of his students, Kenny (Hoult), whose interest in George seems to extend beyond the classroom. He reunites with fellow English expatriate Charley (Moore), herself a middle-aged person grieving the loss of a loved one and mourning the absence of a deeper relationship with George. Will George find new purpose in his life on this, the day he's chosen for it to end, or will the pain and suffering of the past eight months negate any and all hope for a brighter future?
A Single Man is a rare picture that works on every level. It's a well-crafted picture with a story that is surprisingly engaging, moving, and heartfelt despite a bitterly cold and downtrodden tone that hovers over much of the film. It's a film about the complications of life, survival after tragedy, and the meaning to be found beyond the death of a loved one. The story, and by extension George's life and struggles, is further complicated by his homosexuality. He lives in a time that frowns upon such a lifestyle, and he's unable to grieve and recover in a way that would more permanently heal his wounds. What's so astonishing about A Single Man is that the picture paints George in such a remarkably clear, touching, and altogether human manner that his homosexuality doesn't define the picture. Instead, Firth and Director Tom Ford find a way to make George's relationships both lost and that which is springing to life with Kenny integral parts of the film without overwhelming the movie with "a message." Even those in the audience averse to or not completely understanding of such a lifestyle will be able to see beyond -- and by film's end, even ignore altogether -- George's sexuality and identify instead with the human element that Firth so marvelously demonstrates in the character.
A Single Man's exceptional story and strong Oscar-nominated performance from Colin Firth lead the charge in building a winning film. Firth's effort is almost overwhelmingly genuine and touching; the sense of loss his character demonstrates in the film's early flashback scene when he learns of Jim's death proves a devastatingly powerful moment, a truly remarkable signal of what A Single Man is capable of delivering. Considering the audience knows little of either character, it's amazing how much mileage Firth and Ford get out of the moment; the sense of crushing loss is painfully apparent, and more importantly, it sets a tone for the film that says it's something special, something unique, something that's capable of accomplishing anything and everything it sets out to do, even build up sympathy for characters that have only barely been introduced. It's powerful stuff, reinforced by Director Tom Ford's unique vision for his film's visual scheme. He bathes A Single Man in a dreadfully dreary color scheme that's heavy on browns and grays and absent much color. It's a reflection of George's long-lost sense of purpose, but Ford drenches the film in over-saturated colors when George catches glimpses of a possibly brighter future. If there's a fault in A Single Man, this is it; it's not the idea that's questionable, but the execution. It often comes across as too abrupt and startling, sometimes sucking some of the emotion from the movie. No matter, though, because for the most part, A Single Man is far too good to let one slip-up define and overwhelm the movie. The melancholy tone is superbly executed, and the deliberately painful and solitary emotional overtones the picture engenders and embraces defines the movie in ways its color scheme cannot hinder.
A Single Man Blu-ray, Video Quality
A Single Man earns a strong 1080p, 2.40:1-framed transfer. Tom Ford's picture isn't the stuff of high definition eye candy by default, but the transfer handles the film's varied visuals nicely. The image generally takes on a pale gray appearance that washes out much of the color; at other times, color springs onto the screen and looks almost over-saturated and with an excessively red push. Likewise, flesh tones carry these traits; they look pasty and pale in some scenes and capture a heavy reddish/orange tint in others. However, black levels remain stable and honest throughout. The image features a variable grain structure that's potent in some scenes and barely visible in others. Fine detail is lacking in a general sense, but the absence is more a result of Ford's and Cinematographer Eduard Grau's visual style than it is a fault of the Blu-ray transfer. Objects sometimes lack pinpoint definition, but close-ups of clothes and faces do deliver more intricate texturing. A Single Man isn't a film constructed for dazzling visuals. True to Blu-ray's strength, however, the film looks wonderful within the context of the director- and cinematographer-intended visuals.
A Single Man Blu-ray, Audio Quality
A high-quality DTS-HD MA 5.1 lossless soundtrack accompanies A Single Man onto Blu-ray. The track proves highly aggressive from the outset; one early scene is dynamic, full, and loud but also precise, making fine use of the entire dynamic range while also engaging the surround channels. The picture's classically-oriented score enjoys a flowing, easy, and crystal-clear presentation. The low end isn't often engaged, but when it is, it delivers a potent and hard-hitting sensation that's not overbearing but certainly a step up from the picture's more generally relaxed and dialogue-heavy foundation. Ambient sound effects are nicely realized when active; a cacophony of buzzing insects in chapter seven nicely immerses the listener into an outdoor environment, and a gusting wind blows clearly and precisely across the front half of the soundstage in the same scene. Dialogue reproduction never misses a beat from beginning to end. Like the video, this isn't a presentation meant to wow the senses, but it's a fine listen within the context of the movie.
A Single Man Blu-ray, Special Features and Extras
Sony brings A Single Man to Blu-ray with only two extras of substance: an audio commentary track with Producer/Director Tom Ford and the featurette The Making of 'A Single Man' (1080p, 16:07). The commentary is well-spoken and nicely paced despite some noticeable moments of silence; Ford speaks on a plethora of topics in something of a rapid-fire manner between the gaps, covering the film's score, various aspects of the shoot, character traits and arcs, the cast, plot developments, and more. Though Ford occasionally falls into the trap of simply describing the action on-screen, his commentary makes for a good companion piece to the film. The featurette sees cast and crew speaking on the film's story and themes, the original novel by Christopher Isherwood on which the film is based, and the characters. The interview snippets are supported by plenty of scenes from the film. Also included is Sony's MovieIQ connectivity; BD-Live functionality; and 1080p trailers for Nine, Chloe, The Runaways, Broken Embraces, "Damages," and "Breaking Bad."
A Single Man Blu-ray, Overall Score and Recommendation
A Single Man is a brilliantly poignant picture about love and loss, about life after death, about moving on after tragedy. It's not an easy watch, but it's an exceptionally engaging one. First-time Director Tom Ford paints a bleak but thematically and emotionally engaging picture, but it's Colin Firth's performance that truly sells the film. He builds a character that's incredibly easy to sympathize with from the outset, and the film makes his sexuality an afterthought, building a real person rather than an agenda out of the story. A Single Man is an engaging and superbly-crafted Drama that stands as one of 2009's best films. Sony's Blu-ray release is unfortunately absent a larger supplemental selection, but the studio has once again produced a stellar A/V presentation. Fans of serious and seriously well-made cinema need make A Single Man a permanent addition to their Blu-ray collections. Highly recommended.
A Single Man Blu-ray, News and Updates
• A Single Man Blu-ray Announced - May 3, 2010
Sony Pictures Home Entertainment has announced the Weinstein Company title A Single Man for release on Blu-ray on July 6. A Single Man is the first film directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, and starring Colin Firth in an award-winning (and Oscar-nominated) performance ...
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