Blog Directory CineVerse: One is the loneliest number

One is the loneliest number

Tuesday, January 3, 2023

In A Single Man, the 2009 directorial debut of fashion designer Tom Ford, Colin Firth commands our attention as a George Falconer, a professor privately mourning the death of his male partner in the early 1960s. Focusing on a day in the life of this anguished soul—the day when George has decided to take his life—A Single Man uses vignettes, flashbacks, and dreamlike imagery to present an unshakable portrait of grief and trauma. Last week, CineVerse’s mission was to unravel the emotional mysteries behind this film, as summarized below (click here to enjoy a recording of our group discussion).

What was distinctive, surprising, memorable, or curious about A Single Man?

  • The tone is mostly melancholy and downbeat throughout, partly because we know George is planning suicide eight months after his lover has died but also because of the circumstances: George is a closeted gay man in middle age who depressingly has no meaningful relationships outside of his friendship with Charlotte.
  • The filmmakers employ a wide range of film stocks and color palettes to visually express George’s experiences. We often see scenes and characters muted and desaturated of color, insinuating George’s depression; other shots can pop with a chromatic panache, implying that George finds new optimism or vibrancy in certain people he encounters.
  • The narrative bounces around in time, presenting flashbacks of George’s life with Jim as well as surreal snatches of George’s dreams and haunting visions.

Major themes

  • Coping with grief and the pain of loss. This is a story about what it takes to endure personal tragedy.
  • Keeping secrets, and the challenges of grieving as a closeted gay man during a time of repression and cultural disapproval of homosexuality.
  • Trying to find new meaning and truths after life-changing loss. George recognizes beauty, vibrancy, and new promise in people he encounters on his last day on earth, including Kenny, Carlos, and Jennifer, which suggests that there is hopefulness and optimism after great sorrow.
  • The unpredictability and unfairness of life. Spoiler: George decides not to commit suicide, but apparently succumbs to a heart attack anyway.
  • Drowning helplessly in pain. We see recurrent imagery of a naked George submerged, struggling to survive or surface from the water and being unable to call out for help. We also view George swimming naked with Kenny in the ocean, reminding us of this drowning motif.
  • The inability to truly know and understand someone else. We hear Kenny say that life is what we perceive, which may not be accurate.

Similar works

  • Brokeback Mountain
  • 8 ½
  • Beginners
  • Blue
  • The Hours

  © Blogger template Cumulus by 2008

Back to TOP