This is not a happy movie. Touching, memorable, affecting, poignant, thought-provoking, yes, all of these. But cheering it is not.
Colin Firth, in an Oscar-nominated role, plays the single man, George, single only because he has recently lost his partner, Jim, in a road accident. So devastated by his loss is George that he carefully and painstakingly plans his suicide. On the day in question, we find him involved in two encounters that somehow restore his faith in life after Jim.
Charley, a neighbour and old friend, played by Julianne Moore, tries to remind him of the romantic moments they once shared. Drunk and gauche, she dismisses George’s relationship as little more than the whim that kept George from a more meaningful, more normal relationship. In the pivotal scene of the film, George reacts with fury, insisting that his relationship deserved recognition as a wholly loving and life-enriching partnership, in no way inferior to that of more typical heterosexual couples.
Later, a young, admiring student, played winningly by Nicholas Hoult, pursues him home. The openness and spontaneity of the youngster intrigues George and they run to the nearby beach for a swim that results in fun and sex in the surf. Their moments of bliss precede the dark and surprising ending.
Novice Director, Tom Ford, has delivered a stylish-looking movie, capturing the feel of the period. The studied compositions of Herb Ritts, Robert Mapplethorpe and Bruce Weber haunt the many memorable images and lingering close-ups. Was I fully engaged? Not entirely: the plot pivots on George's inability to move on from the death of his beloved Jim. But I didn't feel the emotional warmth, the profound affection that would make all this credible. The images of the couple looked lovely. enough. But it came over more like just another relationship, not the one that dictates a lifetime commitment.
So another story of gay love finds its way to a global audience. No happy ending, but undeniably a thoughtful celebration of a love that nowadays really does dare to speak its name.
Check out this short Long Productions video of images of men from the work of other talented gay photographers.
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