A Single Man

It’s always a pleasure seeing a Colin Firth movie as you never know what he’ll do next.  A Single Man finds him giving a wonderful performance as George, a gay college professor living in 1962 L.A.  Still mourning the loss of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode) in a car crash, he decides to end his life.  Going through his last day as he tidies his affairs, his interaction with student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) and close friend Charley (Julianne Moore) prove pivotal in deciding his ultimate fate.
A Single Man is a film demanding constant attention.  As directed by first timer Tom Ford, his fashion design background makes each scene come alive with remarkable clarity.  His use of colour is crucial in depicting George’s mood as the grey cloud enveloping him gradually allows some brightness to emerge.  As we follow George on his final day on earth, we’re asked to savour each moment along with him.  Despite the crushing pain of his partner’s death, there is always some hope that he can find someway to move forward.
At its core the story is about loneliness. George, as he deals with his situation, no longer has the support base of a loving partner.  Although Charley provides some vague emotional support, she too has issues of need as she deals with a crippling divorce.  In Kenny is someone looking for guidance as he deals with his sexuality.  All three seem to fulfil some need in the other, although their fragile states prevent them from fully finding the answers they desire.  Christopher Isherwood’s novel is given new life with the excellent performances of Firth, Hoult and Moore who make you genuinely feel for their characters.
It’s this eye for quality which elevates proceedings.  The 60’s set design looks very lush although it never overwhelms the central theme.  This helps the ‘living for the moment’ motif running throughout as George is forced to participate in the normal functions of life.  It’s interesting how Ford attempts to visually express how concrete decisions can be muddied by life’s randomness, with pictures and sound almost more important than what is said.  At one time or another we all suffer loss and some feelings can never be expressed by mere words as A Single Man expertly shows.
Using a small cast and simple narrative, Tom Ford’s debut feature is an accomplished piece.  Its subtle structure makes for more insightful viewing in its essay on re-connecting with life.
Rating out of 10:  8

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