Numerous movies, books and songs have wrestled with the emotion we call love – how it can be given and just as easily taken away, how it hurts, heals and triumphs. And despite a generally universal ability to feel this emotion, it can often go unacknowledged or unappreciated. This unfortunately seems to be the case most often when regarding same-sex relationships.
This week’s installment of the Guelcher Film Series, “A Simple Man,” allows us to see the other side of this claim. It details a 24-hour segment in the life of George Falconer (Colin Firth), who has lost his partner of 16 years, Jim (Matthew Goode). Now, after months of grieving, he simply cannot handle the pain anymore. This is 1962, and being gay is still a relatively taboo concept, one which tends to be immediately met with condemnation and hate.
George moves zombie-like through his day with a gun in his bag. He teaches English at a Los Angeles college, speaking in what could almost be considered code to his students about prejudice and social stigmas and fear in a United States which is in the middle of the Cold War, has been faced with the Cuban Missile Crisis and is feeling the pressure of a rapidly changing world.
In the middle of George’s plans for permanent escape is Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), one of George’s students. Kenny seems to have at least partly caught on to his teacher’s hidden message and secret pain, yet he acts on this realization in entirely the wrong way.
After a long day of teaching and eluding Kenny’s clumsy, stalker-esque advances, George goes to have dinner with his best friend, Charley (Julianne Moore). The two had been intimate several times in the distant past, and ever since then, Charley has had an unrequited love for him. She makes the mistake, though, of bringing this up, telling George that she could show him a “real” relationship.
George explodes, yelling at her that his relationship with Jim was real, his anguish and loneliness which had been hiding beneath the surface coming to light in one powerful moment. The unexpected ending which follows is multi-faceted and bittersweet.
“A Simple Man” shows in the D’Angelo Performing Arts Center at 2:15 and 7:15 p.m. today. Tickets are $6 for adults, $5 for students and seniors, and free for Mercyhurst students with ID.