Top positive review
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a fantasy on the book
on 22 February 2012
This film version of the wonderful novel by Christopher Isherwood does not reproduce the realistic tone of the book and gives the whole thing a very airbrushed feel, beginning with the main character who is younger and more attractive than the character on the page. Nevertheless it works very well in its own terms, I think, and provides a fantasy of great appeal. George's day certainly has enough moments of beauty in it, including encounters with two men - the hyper-alluring Jon Kortajarena (who is a model in real life), and a student, equally lovely, played by Nicholas Hoult. These two men are so much a dream come true, and their attitude and generosity towards George so heartening, that it would be unthinkable to give it anything less than fully five stars. Julianne Moore also gives a performance that really gets under the skin of her character, and makes you realise, as always, how she is somehow very bold and risk-taking in the material she takes on. But the most credit must go to Colin Firth - and Tom Ford. Firth has always been a superb actor and has several times worked in films with a gay aspect - Apartment Zero, A Month in the Country, Another Country and Mamma Mia! (in the last of which he plays a gay character as here). All this, as well as being a straight heartthrob, and a very likeable one ... here his performance breathes life into what could have tilted over into a style-over-substance affair, but ultimately doesn't because he makes the character so feeling, he reveals the despair so poignantly, and the consolation ... The look on his face when the student seems to be offering himself to him is quite extraordinary in the way he gets the contradictory emotions of the moment.
My only gripe is with the box, which was also the poster for the cinema release. Why do they present it as if it is a straight romance with Julianne Moore? It seems to be trying to give the wrong impression. I know it isn't very important, but it is mildly irritating, especially as I have just noticed that the cover of Milk does something similar, and the colleague who killed him is shown pointing a gun and taking up more space than either of the lovers he had. As if we don't see enough guns pointing out at us from DVD shelves!