A Single Man
This Sunday, Colin Firth was awarded the Best Actor Bafta for A Single Man in a blaze of long overdue glory. Based on the performance his gives in this stunning, subtle, and achingly lovely film we reckon he might just clinch the Oscar.
Not just a Single Man’s Peformance
However, Firth’s performance – though well deserving of the hype – is just one of the many pleasures of fashion doyen Tom Ford’s directorial debut. Based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood and adapted for the screen by Ford and David Scearce, A Single Man is a haunting drama about a fifty-something scholar, who secretly says farewell to the people he loves as he contemplates suicide.
English professor George (Firth) moulds sharp, young minds in Los Angeles in 1962, concealing the grief over the death of his lover Jim (Matthew Goode) in a freak driving accident. Eight months of sadness have gradually worn George down, and he finally decides to end it all, placing a revolver from the desk drawer in his briefcase before bidding goodbye to his loyal maid Alva (Paulette Lamori). “Thank you, you’re wonderful” he smiles, making sure Alva doesn’t suspect a thing. Arriving at school, George is distracted by gangly third-year student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), who takes an interest in the older man, casting lingering glances across the classroom. George is flattered but does not respond, preferring to spend his time with lush and confidante Charley (Julianne Moore), who clings forlornly to the hope of reigniting a fire within him, secretly never quite believing that George’s love for Jim could be as all consuming as George knows it is.
“There’s been a car accident”
Crafted with the same attention to detail that Ford brings to his menswear collections, A Single Man is a deeply moving portrait of love and death, anchored by Firth’s fearless central turn. Moore is dazzling as ever in a booze-soaked supporting role and Hoult impresses with an American accent, hoping to drop more than his grades for his professor. Artfully composed flashbacks of George and Jim in monochrome and colour build up a portrait of soul mates torn apart by fate, heightening the air of impending tragedy as the professor prepares his final exit. We share the lead character’s sense of loss and his despair at the senseless of coincidence, and for an audience the message is clear; life is precious, delicate and at any time, in a single phonecall, everything you love could be ripped away from you. Haunting, powerful and brilliant.