A Single Man Blu-ray Review
'A Single Man' comes to Region B locked Blu-ray with an interesting 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio.
I used the word interesting as the transfer is liable to cause some controversy. It looks good, but some may be upset by the somewhat desaturated, blue-ish opening that combines with the use of grain to produce the style of image that the director intended. So, to criticise the transfer for such features would be rather pointless as this is simply the way the film looks and in this respect the encode is faithful to the look of the film. The movie also has a very glossy look due to the cinematography and editing that is sometimes at odds with the pale colour palette.
When the film reaches a moment where George (Colin Firth) sees some interest in people he meets, the colour palette warms up - to the point of over saturation on one occasion. Bearing in mind the deliberate colour shifts, we get healthy black levels and a very good contrast range throughout. I have to admit that I did find the colour shifts distracting, although not so much as to pull me out of the story.
As it's from a very recent source, the image is clean and crisp - although I wouldn't describe it as bitingly sharp and this may be due to the use of filters.
It did not appear to have a 3D 'pop' and, indeed, at some times seemed rather flat looking. Much was made of the use of the eyes in close ups and they were perfectly in focus as you'd expect. So to sum up the image, there's nothing really wrong with it. The film is meant to look 'that' way.
The audio on 'A Single Man' comes in a DTS-HD MA 5.1 surround flavour which uses the surrounds with great care to maximise effect. It's mainly dialogue led so, as you'd expect, much of the mix is focused on the main centre speaker although the main stereo pair comes alive with Abel Kurzeniowski's haunting Bernard Hermann-esque score. The surrounds are mainly used to add some gentle ambience in wider environments such as the classroom, the bar or street scenes. They were used to great effect in the scene where George is grief stricken and runs over to seek solace in his neighbour Charley (Charlotte) during a heavy rain shower. The rain effects are fed to all speakers and we are not allowed to hear any dialogue - as per the director's intention. I wasn't aware of any great use of thumping LFE and it would probably just have been wrong in context. As much care has gone into the design of the sound mix as was taken with the decisions on the use of colour in the image. Meticulous would be a good word to use to describe it.
- Audio Commentary
First time director Tom Ford flies solo here as he takes us through his reasons for choosing the style of music, his use of colour to depict mood and his admiration for Colin Firth's acting ability. It's very interesting stuff as clearly he put so much love and care into making 'A Single Man' but you do wonder if most audiences would get it all. I found his soft spoken approach became soporific after a while but it was good to see the movie through the eyes of a creative type.
- The Making of 'A Single Man' (SD, 16 mins)
This nicely lit and shot featurette has input from director Tom Ford, Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode on the messages behind the film. It stylishly makes use of black & white to pick out the interviewees and manages to hold your interest for its duration. It covers the relationships between the characters and fleetingly discusses the fact that it didn't matter that the story featured a same sex couple. It points out that love was the most important part of the story. The director and cast explain their fascination with Colin Firth's ability to entrance an audience with his close-ups. Good stuff.
- Theatrical Trailer (HD, 1 min 26 secs)
The trailer makes much use of tightly cut clips to convey the gist of the story to the strains of the score rather than rely on dialogue. It does what a trailer is supposed to do and raises interest.
The BAFTA winning 'A Single Man' comes to Region B locked Blu-ray with a very stylish 1080p AVC/MPEG-4 transfer framed in the theatrically correct widescreen 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The film looks good with much use of colour temperature variations to depict mood as well as a clean image from a very recent source.
The DTS HD-MA 5.1 surround track makes careful use of surrounds for maximum effect, while ensuring that dialogue is crisp and clean throughout. The Hermann-esque score feeds the main stereo pair with a fine diet of strings.
Extras are limited to an interesting audio commentary by first time director Tom Ford, a 'Making of' featurette and the movie's trailer.
Colin Firth gives an award winning performance as a Los Angeles based College Professor who faces up to life without his long term partner and plans the rest of his short life. Not anywhere near as depressing as you'd think and hypnotic at times -
though probably not for blockbuster movie lovers.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £19.99
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- Audio Commentary