Review: A Single Man
Directed by Tom Ford
Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode
Adapted from the novel by Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man has received a fair amount of press for some bad marketing and its director’s other job. But neither the Weinstein Company’s misguided attempts to ‘un-gay’ the film’s promotional materials, nor Tom Ford’s day job (world renowned fashion designer) can distract from the fact that A Single Man is stunning – gracefully shot and exquisitely styled.
Set in early-60s Los Angeles, the film follows a closeted English professor, George (Firth), as he struggles to make it through an average day in the wake of the sudden death of his long-term partner (Goode). With remarkable, faceted performances from Colin Firth, Julianne Moore and a host of supporting cast members, A Single Man explores, to impressive depths, the isolation that seems so intrinsic to the experience of being human – from the physical boundaries of flesh and bone to broader interpersonal and social segregations.
Far from leading its audience into an introspective nightmare akin to George’s, A Single Man manipulates our shared experience of isolation to create a sense of community and engagement. The visual appeal of the film helps in this regard, drawing the viewer in as though by tractor beam (or some prettier analogy), but it’s Firth’s acting that seals the deal. The honesty of his performance takes personal feelings of loss and loneliness and subtly extends them, making a situation as extreme as being unable to openly grieve for one’s partner of 16 years – for fear of social ostracism, demonization or worse – emotionally accessible to the average viewer. I would not be surprised to see him Oscar-nominated come March.
A Single Man opens in Toronto December 11th.