'A Single Man' vs. 'Brokeback Mountain' (2005)

This year's prestigious gay-themed movie doesn't measure up to the three-time Oscar winner from 2005. The arty style of fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford irritates, but what undoes "A Single Man" is the lack of dramatic tension. Both movies incorporate a similar plot element -- a man trying to adjust to the death of his lover -- but "Brokeback Mountain" had a central character, brilliantly played by the late <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB002980" title="Heath Ledger" href="/topic/entertainment/movies/heath-ledger-PECLB002980.topic">Heath Ledger</a>, in tortured conflict with himself. That dramatic kernel came from the original writer, Annie Proulx, and her short story was shrewdly embellished by screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana and director <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB002982" title="Ang Lee" href="/topic/entertainment/ang-lee-PECLB002982.topic">Ang Lee</a>. <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PECLB001698" title="Colin Firth" href="/topic/entertainment/colin-firth-PECLB001698.topic">Colin Firth</a> does what he can with the more placid character from <a class="taxInlineTagLink" id="PEHST000996" title="Christopher Isherwood" href="/topic/arts-culture/christopher-isherwood-PEHST000996.topic">Christopher Isherwood</a>'s novel, but the film relies on languorous poses instead of compelling confrontations.
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( Weinstein Co. / Focus Features )

This year's prestigious gay-themed movie doesn't measure up to the three-time Oscar winner from 2005. The arty style of fashion designer-turned-director Tom Ford irritates, but what undoes "A Single Man" is the lack of dramatic tension. Both movies incorporate a similar plot element -- a man trying to adjust to the death of his lover -- but "Brokeback Mountain" had a central character, brilliantly played by the late Heath Ledger, in tortured conflict with himself. That dramatic kernel came from the original writer, Annie Proulx, and her short story was shrewdly embellished by screenwriters Larry McMurtry and Diana Ossana and director Ang Lee. Colin Firth does what he can with the more placid character from Christopher Isherwood's novel, but the film relies on languorous poses instead of compelling confrontations.

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