This past weekend, at a special SIFF screening, I saw the new film A Single Man, directed by Tom Ford, who spent decades making his name and fortune as a fashion designer before applying himself to this film, an adaptation of a novel by Christopher Isherwood, written, directed, and produced by Ford. I've been anxious to see A Single Man since its splashy triumph at this year's Venice Film Festival, and I'm happy to report the film succeeds beyond any sane person's expectations.
The basics: A Single Man charts a day in the life of an early-'60s gay man haunted by the death of the love of his life. The man is played by Colin Firth, who appears in every scene and is amazing; he'll be nominated for an Oscar and maybe win. Julianne Moore plays a key supporting role and is good, but the ultimate star of the movie is Tom Ford, who distinguishes himself as a serious filmmaker with something to say. It's a freakishly impressive achievement—smart, confident, meticulous, and deeply, deeply gay.
Which brings us to the supplementary hubbub, well-chronicled by Towleroad, where I first read about the "de-gaying" of A Single Man's press materials, and encountered this hilarious quote from Tom Ford himself:
"This is not a gay film!"
Towleroad and others are rightly suspicious about the closeting of A Single Man and the extent of Ford's involvement in it, but I can only laugh, because speaking the sentence "This is not a gay film!" in reference to A Single Man without busting out laughing is hilarious. Anyone who ventures into A Single Man actually expecting a not-gay movie is going to get the gayest movie they've ever seen.
Seriously: Not only is it a film made by a gay man based on a novel by a gay man about a day in the life of a gay man—in the hands of Tom Ford, A Single Man becomes a towering testament to the world-altering power of compulsive gay-male perfectionism. (Seriously, if this movie had any more lyrical elegance, you'd shit yourself.) And if he can keep a straight face while trying to sell it as a not-gay film, more power to him. Susceptible audience members will learn their big gay lesson soon enough.