'A Single Man'
Film and style - while not mutually inclusive of one another - make for pleasant bed fellows. Great costuming, as a subset of production design, is a vehicle representative of the attention to detail associated with essential films. Its not an unreasonable assumption that films with attentive production design (more often than not) end up being worth seeing.
It would be unfair to say that clothing didn’t matter to me before I saw A Single Man in early 2010. Fresh from high school it reinvigorated in me a hunger to study harmonious aesthetics. While Tom Ford’s spectacular filmic debut may be enjoyed on a narrative level - driven forward in no small part by Shigeru Umebayashi’s score and Firth’s top notch character performance - it is owed recognition on an aesthetic strata that is uncharacteristic of much contemporary ‘cinema’.
Contrary to popular belief, Ford was not the officially appointed costume designer for the film. While hints of his trademark style do permeate the film it is reigned in with a distinctly Anglo sensibility. The color palette of the costuming is restrained and the sense of proportion in this world weighty without being gimmicky.
As Ford’s collections have become increasingly more casual - and in some respects decadent bordering on kitsch - I am reminded of how A Single Man may in fact be the most tasteful manifestation of his entire design career. The raw sexuality of his work hides in plain sight but is tempered with masterful restraint, that never feels as if its giving too much away. I can’t imagine that Isherwood ever conceived the character of Prof. George Falconer as quite this stylish but in the context of this film it adds a layer of complexity with influence as far as his characterization.
A beautiful dinner jacket, perfectly pressed shirts in cream, and a day suit in the most rustic charcoal. This film always comes back to me as a palate cleanser every year reminding one to dress with style but also with dignity.