Why ‘A Single Man’ is not a ‘gay film’.

31 May

A lot of people, especially in various reviews I’ve seen on the internet, draw attention to the fact that A Single Man features a prominent homosexual theme. Since the film documents a love affair between two men, many seem to lump it in with Brokeback Mountain and Shelter. Now of course, the fact that A Single Man is set during the Cold War, in a time when homosexuality was still very much stigmatised by the general public and before the Stonewall riots, means that Colin Firth’s character, George, must remain silent. His invisibility is a main theme of the film, and is the focal point of his famous speech given near the beginning.

I feel that the main theme of A Single Man is that of a relationship tragically cut short, and the fallout which results. The film chronicles George’s unrelenting distress following his partner Jim’s death. He seems unable to move on, as he daydreams continuously about the good times they shared. He gets to such a state that he seriously considers suicide, and indeed almost commits the act. He is saved by his friend Charley, who calls him at just the right time. However, replace Jim with Jenny or Josephine and the raw emotion expressed by this film would not be any different. Yes, George is gay. but this is beside the point and ultimately inconsequential to the message this film is trying to send.

A Single Man is not a ‘gay film’. It’s a film about the profound heartache felt upon losing the person you love. The gender of those in the relationship is irrelevant in this context. I just wanted to put this out there because I feel the film is above being a mere ‘gay film’. It should be regarded as a brilliant, sentimental drama which just so happens to feature a gay couple. Homosexuality is not the crux of this film.



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