A Single Man
Directed by Tom Ford
With fashion supremo Tom Ford at the helm, the very least you’d expect from this adaptation of Christopher Isherwood’s novel is a parade of gorgeous men in well-cut suits. There’s certainly enough Kennedy-era period detail here to satisfy the most ardent fan of Mad Men (along with an uncredited voice cameo from Jon Hamm). But the meticulously edited trailer gives no hint of the warmth and humour that underscore this potentially bleak meditation on love and loss.
November 30th, 1962 may prove to be the final day in the life of George (Colin Firth), a middle-aged British college professor living in a picture-perfect Los Angeles suburb. But unlike his toothsome neighbours, George has no kids and, it would appear, nothing to live for. In a flashback we see him receiving a painfully awkward phone call about the sudden death of his long-term lover Joe (Matthew Goode). Months later, and still haunted by images of Joe’s lifeless body, George makes elaborate preparations to end his life.
Ford’s film relies on two key supporting roles to flesh out George’s past and to hint at the possibility of a happy future. As Charley, a fellow Brit and close neighbour, Julianne Moore brilliantly conveys the fragility of a divorcée past her prime, who is now staring into the abyss through the bottom of a bottle of Tanqueray’s. She berates George for his inability to be the (straight) guy she needs, while he responds with humour, tenderness and tolerance. Meanwhile, student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) is determined to draw the professor out of his self-imposed isolation with the possibility of a new friendship – or more.
– Susannah Straughan