(Venice, Italy) "Fashion design is a wonderful thing, but it is fleeting," said Tom Ford, who is credited with reviving the fashion houses of Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent, during the press conference for A Single Man, his riveting directorial debut.
I always admire people who have the guts and depth of character to metamorphize after a receiving a personal shock -- in fact, I write about jumping from one stream to another in my novels -- and it appears that after a suicide in his family, Tom Ford has done exactly that and made the leap from style to substance.
From the press kit:
"Ford put an autobiographical imprint on A SINGLE MAN. The suicide that George constructs in the film is a replica of a suicide in Ford's family. More importantly, Ford went though his own difficult juncture, like George, a few years ago. "There is much of me in my version of George. A kind of spiritual crisis at mid life comes to many people. I achieved much in the material world at a very early age: financial security, fame, professional success, more material possessions than I knew what to do with. I had a full personal life, a wonderful life partner of 23 years, two great dogs, and lots of friends but somehow lost my way a bit. As a fashion designer, one spends one's life living in the future designing collections several years ahead of when they will actually be in stores. Our culture encourages a belief that all of our problems can be solved with material things. I had completely neglected the spiritual side of my life."
At the press conference, Ford spoke about the brief adrenaline rush when a model first appears on the runway -- flash, flash, flash -- and then after six months the clothes end up in the back of the closet. He said that most people come to the point in their life where they realize that maybe everything they had been working toward isn't ultimately making them happy.
Colin Firth spoke about how fortunate he was to have this role -- in fact, he later won the Volpi Cup for Best Actor (I predict he will be nominated for an Academy Award, he is so brilliant). Plus, he speaks fluent Italian! And any movie with Julianne Moore (who was my neighbor for a time on West 11th Street in New York City) will always get my attention because I respect her work so much.
Like Lebanon (see http://venetiancat.blogspot.com/2009/09/and-winner-of-66th-venice-international.html), I attended the press conference for A Single Man before I actually saw the film. In fact, I was so impressed by Tom Ford, Colin Firth and Julianne Moore that I got up early (remember I have no home and am living all over the place, lugging what little clothes I have in a backpack, together with my legal documents slung over one arm and all the press materials over the other arm -- right now I am writing this blog in the library as my computer is still locked in my apartment) and went to the last screening at 8:15 in the morning on the last day of the film festival at the farthest away theater, the PalaBiennale. So, I made a great effort to see the movie, and I was rewarded by experiencing a poignant, moving love story -- an amazing directorial debut.
Even though the characters are gay, Tom Ford insisted A Single Man was not a gay film, and I agree. It is a film about a great love, an adaptation of the novel by Christopher Isherwood. The film takes place all in one day (I can relate to that, too, as Harley's Ninth is set all in one day -- it's a difficult structure to work with), and is set in Los Angeles in 1962 during the height of the Cuban missile crisis.
From the production notes:
It is 1962, and nuclear warfare looms imminently. Fear pervades the world. Societal values are represented in over-simplistic black and white terms, but the complexities of human relationships remain just as convoluted as they are today.
Those of us who grew up during that time period will remember how obsessed everyone was with building bomb shelters and stock piling canned goods. I remember air raid drills instead of fire drills when the entire school trooped downstairs into the hallway, crouched against the wall and tucked our little heads between our legs -- as if that was going to save us from a nuclear bomb!
Harvey Weinstein has already snatched up the rights to A Single Man for 2.5 million dollars, and I think he got it cheap:) Another prediction: people who thought they would never accept that two men could love each other as deeply as a heterosexual couple (and I am one of them) might just change their minds.
Here is an excerpt from the press conference:
Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog