A Single Man by Tom Ford

“A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp. And the world seems so fresh as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.” ~ ‘A Single Man’

Even if it had not been directed by Tom Ford, the film version of Christopher Isherwood’s ‘A Single Man’ would have intrigued me, with its themes of solitude, lost love, human connection, and the notion of living every moment to its fullest. Being that it was directed by Mr. Ford, there’s a whole other level of beauty, grace, and exquisite stylization that only a man of Ford’s taste and design could conjure.

I was moved the first time I saw it in the theater, but this is a film that actually grows better with each viewing. Every frame is a work of art, a perfectly-composed photograph. Sometimes it’s almost too perfect, which is one reason why it was originally seen as somewhat chilly and remote. I find just the opposite to be true. The beauty here is crackling; it strikes with heat and ferociousness. It also serves the purpose: this film demands that the viewer, like the protagonist, sees everything as if for the first time. Especially when it might be the last time.

Ford is masterful in his use of color, as expected from such a fashion wizard, and it works brilliantly as a tributary into the grand vision of the entire piece. Each section, each tiny vignette, each jewel of a close-up ~ they contribute to a mesmerizing and moving experience. Perhaps it’s too subtle for a modern audience. As I get older, I feel the loss of that studied pace of life. Maybe it’s just the sadness that sometimes comes from getting older. Yet in this film, the sadness of growing up and losing things is countered compellingly by all the beauty.

It’s in the kiss of a man. The kiss of a woman. The rolling waves of the ocean. A short trail of cigarette smoke from the lips. A corridor of lemon trees. The burning blaze of a sun’s descent. The clear, sparkling blue eyes of youth. A stillness in a shared night. Such gorgeous loneliness, such terrible beauty. Such is the sumptuous panoply of life.

My heart succumbs to it every time.

“You know, the only thing that’s made the whole thing worthwhile has been those few times when I’ve been able to really, truly connect with another human being.” ~ A Single Man

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