I was afraid that ATONEMENT (Joe Wright, 2007) would have revealed itself to be boring, but instead it was quite the opposite. Very well made under every aspect - in particular, kudos to DoP McGarvey for the magnificent shots, among which is a splendid 5-minute long tracking shot of the beaches of Dunkirk (I love long tracking shots - although they aren’t always found in films that are just as beautiful, see Altman’s The Player and Sokurov’s Russian Ark). I found peculiar the final reflections of Briony, one of the main characters of the story: what is the point in telling a story like this one? In fact, why should someone wish to tell or to listen to a bitter fictional story at all? It is something I often wonder myself, yet it is undeniable we do. Could it be that, by witnessing the pain of fictional characters we are made to care about by a skilled teller as if they were real, we find relief for our own sufferings?
“Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty.”
The Hollywood gene pool got even smaller in 2009 when Tom Ford, the legendary fashion designer directed the Oscar nominated film, A Single Man (2009). In his debut as a filmmaker, Ford adapted Christopher Isherwood’s novel of the same name that follows the life of George (Colin Firth), a morose, gay college professor who seems to be suffering from a bad case of middle-age. George struggles with relationships, from his complex friendship with the glamorously vacant Charley (Julianne Moore), to a moonlit tryst with a young, male student (Nicholas Hoult).
Colin Firth delivers a heartbreakingly honest performance in his role as George, serving up a painfully elegant portrayal of midlife frustration that is undeniably deserving (however, not received) of the Academy Award for Best Actor. Now, as for Julianne Moore. If you didn’t want to smoke before, you’ll be pining for a pink cigarette, I repeat, a pinkcigarette after bathing in her performance as a glitteringly gratuitous homemaker.
The cinematography of A Single Man screams ‘Tom Ford.’ With every element of this film complimenting one another, what we as docile viewers and adoring fans alike are presented with is a haute couture drama that serves to contradict the laughably amateur heritage of Gay Cinema. I think the reason A Single Man is so successful as a ‘gay film’ is because it isn’t about sex, its about one mans desperation and the inevitable suffocation of the human condition.