A Single Man (12A)



Drama (2009)
100mins US

Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Nicholas Hoult
Director: Tom Ford
Writer(s): David Scearce, Tom Ford
Listings: London | Rest of UK and Ireland

English professor George conceals the grief over the death of his lover Jim in a freak driving accident. After eight months of guilt and sadness have worn George down, he finally decides to end it all, placing a revolver from the desk drawer in his briefcase. Third-year student Kenny takes an obvious intense interest in the older man, and gives the teacher some pause for thought.

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See Also: Interview with Colin Firth

LondonNet Film Review
A Single Man

If the Oscars were truly awarded on merit rather than the baubles of a glorified popularity contest then Colin Firth would be collecting a golden statuette as Best Actor In A Leading Role on March 7...

A Single Man. IconHowever, the British star's mesmerising portrayal of a gay professor torn apart by grief in A Single Man will inevitably be overshadowed by Jeff Bridges' showy portrayal of an alcoholic country and western singer. Nuance and subtlety are apparently overrated, and the aching emotion conveyed in a single silent gaze will be completely overlooked by audiences and voters, who need to be instructed how to feel every step of the way. Firth's stunning performance is just one of the many pleasures of fashion doyen Tom Ford's directorial debut, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. 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.

A Single Man. IconCrafted 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 we see how eternal happiness can be shattered into smithereens by a single telephone call containing the words: "There's been a car accident."

- Jo Planter


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