Tonight after work I was granted the opportunity to watch an early preview screening of fashion designer Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, starring Colin Firth (Pride & Prejudice, Bridget Jones’ Diary), Julianne Moore (Magnolia, Hannibal, Children of Men), Nicholas Hoult (About A Boy, Wah-Wah, Skins, Clash of the Titans), and Matthew Goode (Brideshead Revisited, Watchmen). It has to be said that Tom Ford has indeed created a beautiful film. I keep wanting to say achingly beautiful. Everything is styled to perfection: clothes, accessories, hair, sets, period accoutrements. Even the film stock used has a gorgeously grainy texture (I heart grain). But this is not style without substance. Colin Firth’s performance has been called “career-defining”, and I would tend to agree. I like Firth, have liked him in many things, but this is the performance of a lifetime. Giving the Best Actor Oscar to Jeff Bridges over him feels a little wrong. But then this isn’t going to be everyone’s film… the subject matter will turn a fair few people off (Firth’s character, George, is grieving for his relatively recently deceased lover Jim, played in flashback by Goode, and decides to end his life, but his head is somewhat turned when he is pursued by his student Kenny, played by Hoult). Watching George go systematically through his planned final hours is sad and heartbreaking and sometimes even absurdly amusing, but is consistently engaging. There is a tinge of sensuality washing through the film, drenching George’s world in brilliant technicolour, balancing out the melancholy that goes hand-in-hand with the loss of someone so dearly loved. Hoult’s Kenny, who is basically eye-candy, and a sort of wake-up call for George, has a somewhat overcooked American accent which is one of few off-notes in this otherwise pitch-perfect film. Of course now I want to get my hands on Isherwood’s novel to see how it compares. All in all I think you should go see it. Unless of course you can’t stomach the fact that it is inherently a gay movie, in which case you probably wouldn’t enjoy it at all.
A Single Man