much has been said about tom ford's directorial debut. the images are certainly exquisite, and the mad men influence can be read in the styling throughout. what struck me in particular was the way vivid colors were used to convey emotions- they really got inside the psychological state of colin firth's george.
i also felt the compositions were quite unusual. the film employs some rather abstract art house images which manage to work very well in what is ultimately a fairly straight forward story. extreme close ups are artfully juxtaposed with wide establishing shots, meditating on the beauty of mid-century design. the painted image of janet leigh's marion crane from psycho on a building in a parking lot was especially startling as a graphic moment in the film. the connection seems appropriate with both george and marion traveling on a day long odyssey, and the heightened sense of anxiety we in the audience feel for them, as they search for answers. it further seeks to visually plant a single man squarely in the territory of high mid century modernism alongside what is perhaps the most influential film of the period.
despite the strong formal sensibility and performances however, i ultimately found a single man to be fairly contrived as a story. perhaps it is a given that in tom ford's 1960s calfornia all the men are beautiful and gay and lurking behind every corner. nevertheless, this undermines a film that otherwise goes through great lengths to establish a subjective sense of reality based on a dramatic yet very believable event. the modelesque men that move in and out of george's life, essentially throwing themselves at him in unexpected ways, manage to trivialize this. and on a narrative level, the film suffers for it.
film stills from a single man trailer