A SINGLE MAN is based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. Set in Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, it is the story of a British college professor (Colin Firth) who is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner. The story is a romantic tale of love interrupted, the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition, and, ultimately, the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life. 2009 Critics’ Choice Awards nominations include Colin Firth (Best Actor), Julianne Moore (Best Actress), Best Screenplay and Best Art Direction. 2010 Golden Globe nominations include Colin Firth (Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture – Drama), Julianne Moore (Best Performance by an Actress In A Supporting Role in a Motion Picture) and Best Original Score - Motion Picture.
Colin Firth gives the performance of a lifetime in A Single Man, a drama directed and adapted for the screen by fashion designer Tom Ford, who clearly has a deft vision and ability in the world of film as well. A Single Man is based on a novel by Christopher Isherwood, and Ford's--and Firth's--gift is bringing the inner-turmoil world of the novel to believable, and devastating, life on the screen. Firth may be best known as a dashing romantic-comedy hero (Pride and Prejudice, the Bridget Jones films), but in A Single Man he demonstrates nuance and depth that will stay with the viewer long after the film is over. Firth plays George, a gay British professor, living a life of true, if closeted, bliss with his partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), in the straitlaced early '60s. When Jim dies suddenly at the beginning of the film, George wrestles with how to go on without his true love--and with never being able ever to express his grief openly. The film flashes back to scenes of George and Jim and their dogs, scenes awash in warm tones, and then forward to the present, shot in subtle sepia tones that show joy has disappeared from George's life. Yet there are flashes of hope and feeling: one brief scene--showing George's seeing a dog similar to one the couple had owned, and drawing his face close to the dog's for a familiar and comforting scent--lasts but a moment yet resonates that grief and loss are felt the same by everyone, no matter what they have lost. A Single Man's cast also includes Julianne Moore, playing a complex role as George's best friend and long-ago lover--one of the only people on the planet who can know all that George is going through, yet with vast vulnerabilities of her own. Nicholas Hoult plays a student who reaches out to George, saying, "I guess I just thought you looked like you could use a friend." But it's Firth who triumphs in the film, and who drives the complex emotions--all true, all rewarding--that hold A Single Man aloft and give it its impact. A Single Man can hold its own against Brokeback Mountain as a story of love and loss that transcends any single genre. --A.T. Hurley
Stills from A Single Man (Click for larger image)