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February 02, 2012

Mid-Century Modern at its Best: Stills from 'A Single Man'

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Tom Ford's directorial debut, A Single Man, may have come out nearly three years ago but I've now finally got around to watching it (that's my usual timing), and I'm glad I did. Ford's adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's novel is absolutely gorgeous, and although it's a story worth following closely, it's one of those films you could later watch with the sound down. Especially if you love the mid-century modern aesthetic which personally I go mental for - I had dilated pupils throughout. With beautifully shot scenes capturing with a discerning eye that which we wouldn't usually see, or rather, be shown.

Colin Firth brilliantly portrays George, a British professor living in LA in the 1960s who isn't the funnest guy by nature. He is struggling with the sudden loss of his younger partner, Jim, and we see him preparing to end his life. The film has a few, significant characters who were perfectly cast, particularly the sweet, young student Kenny played by Nicholas Hoult, whose 1960s American accent was so flawless that I began to doubt that it was indeed the English actor.  (Jude Law, take note. That's how it's done. What the heck was that in I ♥ Huckabees?)

I'll let the photos tell the rest of the story. (Don't mind the runny quality of most of the photos, I took them from the TV.)

GEORGE'S HOUSE

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George appears as a kind apparition here. It could be taken as foreshadowing, or symbolic of the fact that since Jim's death he's become a ghost of his former self.

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Hi-brow story alert! George is sitting on the toilet here, peering at his neighbours between the wooden slats of his beautiful walnut bathroom. Leave it to Tom Ford to make sitting on the can look stylish. That reminds me of something funny that happened to a friend once.  She was in the washroom at work, and you know how when you're on the toilet in a stall you can sometimes see out through the space between the frame? Well, when she was looking out (where else are you going to look?) a co-worker walked in and they actually made eye contact through that 1cm gap. It was really awkward and my friend didn't know what to do, so she smiled and waved. Her coworker did not. Needless to say, she waited until she left to come out!

KENNY

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Kenny's friend Lois was played by model Aline Weber who I didn't recognise at first thanks to her Bardot-esque look. She didn't really speak, but she sure did smoke a lot.

CHARLEY

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DSC_6933Julianne Moore's Charley was all about full-on glamour - she even brought out the purpley-pink cigarettes when she was dressed up!

JIM

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SCENERY

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Another model, Jon Kortajarena, who has featured in Tom Ford campaigns, plays an exotic James Dean-type who has a chance meeting with George. This LA parking lot features at both night and daytime with Janet Leigh's Psycho billboard looking on. It seems ominous, but I took it as symbolism for George's eyes opening to the tiny details usually overlooked in daily life, because he knows it's going to be his last day alive. He becomes engrossed in every little thing, and therefore so do we. This is my favourite scene:

GEORGE RUNS INTO THE NEIGHBOUR GIRL AT THE BANK

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The head-to-toe turquoise of the girl's outfit with the walnut browns of the bank decor in this scene are gorgeous together. I love the random specifics of the scene. She's holding her pet scorpion in a curious jar which her more-than-likely gay brother - as she innocently insinuates in this scene - decorated with columns to make it into a mini Colosseum in which they watch it kill its prey.

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A Single Man is a dreamy film, one that stayed with me which isn't something I can often say. Is there anything Tom Ford can't do?

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