Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore
Directed by Tom Ford
It is 1962 and Jim (Matthew Goode), George’s partner of sixteen years, is killed in a motor accident. That was two months ago but today George (Colin Firth), a university professor, is going to do something about it helped along by his boozey friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and an attentive and handsome young student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult). Christopher Isherwood’s novel hits the screen with real style.
“Not only does it contain Colin Firth’s finest screen performance to date, but it was directed by tyro filmmaker Tom Ford (the fashion designer and former Gucci executive) with the sort of assurance one associates with Citizen Kane”.
Kansas City Star
“A Single Man may at times look as carefully arranged as a fashion magazine spread, but Ford has made an elegant, compassionate movie about the broken heart beneath one tailored suit”. Capital Times
“For the most part, this is impeccably composed, astonishingly self-assured debut film-making. A Single Man is patently a labour of love, and you can feel Ford’s commitment to the content in every frame”. Empire
“Fashion designer Tom Ford gets it spectacularly right first time round in his directorial debut”. Screen International
It’s not fair really. First the man becomes Gucci’s greatest designer, then he becomes design god and just when you would have thought he has done enough, he comes out with his first feature film and it is a winner too.
It is not surprizing that Ford manages to hit every 1962 design button dead centre or that his film is a thing of beauty but it is much more than that – it is an extraordinary achievement on every level.
The melancholy mood of this painful day in the bereaved life of reserved English professor, George (Colin Firth) is sustained without sinking into maudlin indulgence and manages to find much ironic and dry humour even in moments of deepest adversity. Tom Ford should have been directing films years ago.
He is helped, of course, by what must be Colin Firth’s best performance to date as the repressed, secretive and melancholy academic whose heart is breaking violently but silently. Firth’s face, with its pained stiff upper lip dominates the screen and tells us more than any extended dialogue could ever do. The extended scene when he receives the news over the telephone is heart-breakingly powerful achieved with the minimum of histrionics and a sure touch with the simplest of camera-work. Students of cinema should see the film for this scene alone.
Julianne Moore is on cracking form too as George’s unhappy, unlucky gin-loving friend Charley with limited time on the screen she still manages to put in a star performance allowing us to smell the gin on her breath and the pain in her heart as she totters more and more out of control.
Matthew Goode and Nicholas Hoult too do all that is expected of them with real screen presence but the movie is Colin Firth’s and his Oscar nomination is the least he deserves for this brave and emotional portrait that does Christopher Isherwood’s novel proud.