"What If Woody Allen Were a Homosexual Intellectual?"
What You Need To Know:
A SINGLE MAN is about more than just George’s homosexuality but contains many scenes showing George’s immoral desire for other, younger men, including the student. There is nothing much redemptive about the protagonist’s emotional conclusion that it’s the small things in life, including brief feelings of human companionship, that make life worth living. Finally, a harbinger of death hangs over the story. This leads to a tragic, nihilistic ending that seems to contradict the positive aspects of the Romantic view about what makes life worth living.
(PaPaPa, RoRo, HoHoHo, HHH, PCPCPC, LL, VV, SS, NN, AA, DD, MM) Very strong mixed pagan worldview with strong Romantic elements where “closeted” homosexual protagonist in 1962 ultimately concludes that, in order to enjoy the small moments of life and of brief human companionship, and not succumb to despair about one’s future death and the friends who have died, one must shut off the mind and engage one’s feelings, but there’s a very strong humanist pall of death and fate that leads to nihilistic nothingness in the final scene, plus very strong politically correct content, including man goes on a strong politically correct rant about minorities that clearly reflects his pro-homosexual views and a woman’s marriage is depicted as much worse than male protagonist’s long-term homosexual relationship; eight obscenities, two GDs, one light profanity, and a couple references to urination; disturbing shots of man planning his own suicide and putting gun barrel into his mouth; depicted male on male kissing and homosexual man is shown having erotic desires for his male partner and two other younger men; homoerotic nude swimming with shots of rear male nudity as two men go skinny dipping and obscured images of nude man sitting on a beach or sandy cliff near a beach; alcohol use and drunkenness; smoking and marijuana use, plus discussion of using mescaline, with older man advising a younger man against using it; and, strong miscellaneous problems such as despair, confused philosophy mixing Romanticism with a humanist despair about death, two friends have an argument, and teacher and student abuse the boundaries protecting them, though nothing sexual or romantic between them actually happens in the movie.
A SINGLE MAN is an intense, talky, well-acted drama about a “closeted” homosexual professor from England in 1962 Los Angeles, who decides to end his life after living eight months without his younger partner, who died suddenly in a tragic traffic accident. Prof. George Falconer has never gotten over his grief for Jim. He finds it very hard to even get up in the morning.
The movie traces George’s movements, thoughts, and human interactions as he goes about wrapping up his personal affairs before shooting himself. In the meantime, George dines with the English woman who has been his friend before he met Jim. There is a touching, funny conversation with a neighborhood girl, whom George finds is not as shallow as he thought she was. George also has an intense philosophical discussion with one of his young male students, who ends up visiting with George that night in his house after a drunken skinny dip in the ocean. Finally, flashback scenes between George and Jim are meant to show how wonderful homosexual relationships can be.
Loosely based on a novel by homosexual author Christopher Isherwood, A SINGLE MAN is about more than just George’s homosexuality and his dead partner, though it contains many scenes showing George’s immoral desire for other, younger men, including the student. Also, there is nothing much redemptive about the protagonist’s emotional conclusion that it’s the small things in life, including brief feelings of human companionship, that make life worth living. Also, a harbinger of death hangs over the story. This leads to a tragic, nihilistic ending that contradicts the positive aspects of the movie’s Romantic message about life worth living. The ending seems confusing when juxtaposed against the protagonist’s final optimistic conclusion about life.
In some ways, the protagonist’s immoral worldview and lifestyle reminds one of a more serious Woody Allen. It also reminds one of some kind of New Age, Pantheistic Buddhism. In fact, the director, and co-screenwriter, mentions some Eastern connections between him and the original novel’s author, Christopher Isherwood, in the production notes. These references are not very clearly seen in the movie, however, which adds more confusion.
Of course, the filmmakers obviously don’t know there is hope, healing, and joy in a personal relationship with God through Jesus Christ and in the eternal afterlife a follower of Jesus will enjoy. And, gratitude to Jesus for what He suffered on the Cross for us can bring us a level of eternal peace and joy which is infinite and everlasting. This is not based merely on feelings, however, but comes with an objective study of and washing in God’s Word, the Bible, which contains unfathomable depths of truth, beauty, and profundity. Such grace and gratitude can inspire us to do great feats for God in this life, as well as in the next. It also offers forgiveness, salvation, and eternal life for sinners, including those engaging in homosexual sins, but only if the sinner repents and puts their faith in God through Jesus Christ and the sanctifying power of the Holy Spirit.
In the end, this movie could have done without all the multiple, super-intense homosexual looks by its protagonist toward younger men. There are more shots of upper male nudity in this movie than in a 10,000 page Abercrombie and Fitch catalogue (we kid)! Looking back, these shots just seem rather silly than informative. They also seem to reflect the Romantic elements of the movie’s overall worldview. Perhaps, they also show why it is often easy to mock and satirize the aesthetic style of such intense Romanticism, which the particularly corny Hollywood movies of the Golden Age often borrowed. A SINGLE MAN is more deft at portraying this attitude and style, however. It’s also not quite as silly as the much over-rated, more insipid, more annoying, and less accomplished BROKEBACK MOUNTAIN.