Volume 22, Number 32 | The Newspaper of Lower Manhattan | December 18 - 24, 2009
Koch on Film
By Ed Koch
“A Single Man” (+)
This is not a great film, but it’s certainly worth seeing. The director and co-writer of the screenplay is the heralded clothing designer Tom Ford. Ford was recently interviewed on The Charlie Rose Show about the film and his own personal life. During the interview, he mentioned that he is gay. He also pointed out that the film is based on a book of the same title written by Christopher Isherwood. The story of “Sally Bowles,” also authored by Isherwood, was the basis for the play “I Am a Camera,” which later became the musical “Cabaret” both on film and on Broadway.
“A Single Man” is about the life of a gay-middle-aged university professor, George (Colin Firth), who lost his architect lover, Jim (Matthew Goode), in an auto crash. The film opens with George receiving a phone call informing him of Jim’s death. Jim’s family had no intention of telling George of the tragedy nor of inviting him to the funeral, which he does not attend.
During the next 24 hours, George goes to his classroom to lecture on Huxley — and is sexually stalked by a male student, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult). George fends him off, only to have Kenny seek him out later in the day. They go skinny dipping in the warm Pacific Ocean waters off Los Angeles and later to George’s home. George is also hit on that day by a charming Spanish-speaking hustler, Carlos (Jon Kortajarena). I thought their serendipitous meeting and conversation in Spanish was one of the high points of the film. George also has dinner that evening with Charley (Julianne Moore) who at one time was his girlfriend. Charley is now an aging alcoholic longing to embrace him — to which George half-heartedly responds. During these 24 hours, George has decided to kill himself and practices with a gun he has in his home.
Many who see this movie will be disappointed that it only hints at intimacy rather than showing actual scenes. Why Tom Ford did not include them doesn’t make sense to me. This is an important homosexual film based on a first-rate novel with a first-rate cast and probably a harbinger of similar movies to come. It would not surprise me if we soon see Brad Pitt featured in a gay film. In my opinion, the best movie to date on the subject of “the love that dare not speak its name,” so described by Oscar Wilde, is “Sunday, Bloody Sunday.”
Rated R; 1 hour, 39 minutes. At, among other places, Clearview’s Chelsea (260 West 23rd Street). For screening times, 212-777-3456 x597. For the Box Office, 212-691-5519.