Sometimes a film is so piercingly sharp that it seems as if it finds a spot in your chest and presses there until you crack. This film was one of those. It leaves you with something new inside of you, a new space through which you suddenly see the world very differently. In his directorial debut, Tom Ford has both lived up to and excelled my expectations. A Single Man is the story of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a gay professor at a university in Los Angeles in 1962. He lives alone, struggling with the loss of his lover of 16 years, who died in a car accident 8 months prior to the film. The film centers around what George intends to be his last day on earth and follows him through the motions of tidying up his life before he ends it.
First of all, Colin Firth is amazing in this role. You fall in love with him from the very first tragic moments to the last, and Falconers grief is palpable in everything he does. But Firth also lends his character a certain amount of joy amidst all the bleakness of preparing for his suicide. Turning what would otherwise be commonplace encounters into something special, as he knows they are the last he will have.
Secondly, Tom Ford really did a beautiful job on this film. Every shot is extraordinarily beautiful and works to set the tone of the movie. It is a bit reminiscent of glamorous 1960’s fashion spreads–the production design is by the same folks who do Mad Men, and well, it’s Tom Ford directing–but that may very well be one of the things that makes me love it more. It’s beautiful to look at, with gorgeous fashion and set design, but it is heart-wrenchingly so; the color flooding in to show the small pleasures Falconer takes throughout the day, and draining away to reveal his underlying sadness. It also features some really amazing supporting roles; Julianne Moore as Charlie, Falconers lonely, gin-soaked divorcée friend as well as Nicholas Hoult as his student, Kenny.
All in all, it was a gorgeous film. If you loved An Education or Mad Men, I’d definitely recommend watching this. I know I’ll be watching it a few more times in the weeks ahead.