Film: A Single Man
Director: Tom Ford
Starring: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore
Runtime: 101 mins
Review: Lev Harris
Tom Ford is a fashion designer. That much is obvious from the trailer of his debut film A Single Man. It’s cool, sharp and polished, everything a Gucci suit should be. The full length offering begins as the trailer means to carry on, characterized by production design which flawlessly evokes the setting of 1960s California during the Cuban Missile Crisis. Yet it’s the highly stylized approach of lush visuals combined with an expansive palette of saturated colours which threatens to overawe the viewers and distract them from the standout feature, the central performance of Colin Firth. He anchors the film with his portrayal of George Falconer, a gay professor who leads a haunted and disillusioned existence following the death of his partner, Jim eight months earlier.
We trace him on what is potentially his last day as, struggling to see any future to his life, he prepares to commit suicide. Firth has rightly received an Oscar nod for his nuanced and dignified role as a man consumed by torment on the inside, yet enveloped by a closed-off demeanour to the outside world. His co-star, Julianne Moore, was cruelly overlooked by the Academy despite her heart-rending and understated turn that compliments Colin Firth’s staggering lead, while never overshadowing it.
This is not the self-indulgent film-making that some have made it out to be; Ford balances the quietly affecting substance with a refreshing and self-assured lightness of touch. The visual aesthetic feels like a true labour of love, exuding emotion from every single angle, and the film is all the better for it.