An English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles.An English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles.An English professor, one year after the sudden death of his boyfriend, is unable to cope with his typical days in 1960s Los Angeles.
Firth, always elegant and fascinating, plays George Falconer, a British professor in 1960's Los Angeles trying to cope with the death of his long-term partner, Jim (Matthew Goode). It's been eight months since Jim's death, and George decided to end his life by the end of the day – and it's this day we see in this admirable film. George spends time with his best friend Charley (the always wonderful Julianne Moore), with whom he had something in the past (and still has hopes of winning him over again), and now is an unhappy divorcée. A young pupil, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult, who has grown up a lot since "About a Boy" and "The Weather Man"), who clearly is infatuated with George, harasses him until he finally gives him the attention he craves. These two different encounters will be decisive for George. As sad as the overall tone and the theme of mourning can be, "A Single Man" is by no means depressing. Ford uses and abuses of "artsy", but very efficient and intriguing camera angles, and a classy score by Polish composer Abel Korzeniowski. Eyes, lips are shown in evidence throughout the film, and naturally, the costumes are all superb.
George's long day's journey reminds me a lot of Virginia Woolf's classic "Mrs. Dalloway". Marleen Gorris was able to do a correct but somewhat cold adaptation of Woolf's novel in 1997 (scripted by Woolf scholar and talented actress Eileen Atkins, featuring the magnificent Vanessa Redgrave in the title role), but I thought she wasn't much to blame for the film's coldness since that's one of the most complex novels to be translated to the screen. After seeing "A Single Man", I even dare to say Tom Ford could do an interesting and very personal adaptation of "Mrs. Dalloway". Also, this is one of the sexiest films since Alfonso Cuaron's "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (2001) and Bernardo Bertolucci's "The Dreamers" (2003), and Nicholas Hoult's incandescent presence has a lot to do with that. He gives an efficient, brave performance for an actor his age, and although I'm sure Jamie Bell ("Billy Elliot"), who was the first choice for the role, would've been terrific, Hoult doesn't disappoint. It's not every day we're given a film with such emotional intensity and exuberant sensuality, and "A Single Man" proves that Tom Ford is certainly a promising director, having given us not just a great first film, but one also one of the year's finest and most unusual creations. A film to be felt and celebrated, and I can't wait for the DVD - it's a keeper. 10/10.
- Jan 21, 2010