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TIFF#: A Single Man Ignites Fest's First Big Sale

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood September 15, 2009 at 7:36AM

I was lining up to see designer Tom Ford's first feature A Single Man this morning as the deal was closing for The Weinstein Co. to release the picture. This acquisition title has generated more heat than anything else so far. (Critical buzz is also strong on Get Low, but buyers seem to be holding back on the Robert Duvall picture.)
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Thompson on Hollywood

I was lining up to see designer Tom Ford's first feature A Single Man this morning as the deal was closing for The Weinstein Co. to release the picture. This acquisition title has generated more heat than anything else so far. (Critical buzz is also strong on Get Low, but buyers seem to be holding back on the Robert Duvall picture.)

Clearly A Single Man, which Ford adapted with David Scearce from the 1964 Christopher Isherwood novel, offers Harvey Weinstein an Oscar move that he knows how to play. (He is also well-travelled in director Ford's glam fashion world.) Colin Firth won best actor at the Venice Film Fest, which was hugely influential this year on the proceedings at both Telluride and Toronto, as early reviews and awards news lent certain films added credibility. (Golden Lion winner Lebanon is also said to be on the verge of selling.)

Firth, who just turned 49, is a slam dunk for his first Oscar nomination. While the actor has delivered in many strong roles over the years, including BAFTA-nominated performances in Pride and Prejudice and Bridget Jones Diary, he's never single-handedly carried a movie like this. Matthew Goode and Julianne Moore are also warmly entertaining in smaller roles, as Firth moves through various stages of grief and despair over the death of his long-time partner (Goode). (Moore stars in two other TIFF films: Chloe and The Private Lives of Pippa Lee. )

[The trailer is on the jump.]

Set in 1962, the movie is gorgeously designed, from giant Psycho billboards and a John Lautner house (Arianne Phillips designed the costumes) to silver-finned cars: it's an idealized L.A. shot like an Italian movie of the period, plus a stunning digitally-enhanced color palette. Ford shifts colors with Firth's moods and memories, moving from pale miserable browns into rich oranges and reds.

Firth plays one of several college professors in Toronto movies who have encounters with their students, along with Michael Stuhlbarg in the Coens' A Serious Man and Edward Norton in Tim Blake Nelson's Leaves of Grass.

Here's the trailer:


This article is related to: Awards, Festivals, Independents, Reviews, Oscars, Toronto, Weinsteins


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Thompson on Hollywood

Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.