Tom Ford’s A Single Man is swimming with emotion and heartbreak. The wonderful performances, combined with a striking depth of character, brings everything that was wonderful about Christopher Isherwood’s novel to cinema. The beautiful cinematography adds a charm to the film which is perfectly contrasted by the woe and tragedy of the story and the life of the lead character.
As we journey with George through his daily life we become engulfed, with him, in his tragedy. After losing his partner in an accident, George’s life has become monotonous, meaningless and exquisitely painful. As we join him in his morning routines, in the first few minutes of the film, we are already drawn to his nature and his suffering. Colin Firth is at his best ever in A Single Man. He mixes wit and intelligence with his helplessness and his delivery of the dialogue emphasises the secret chaos he is constantly living in. Firth gives a performance so raw and so fascinating that it is impossible not to feel the sorrow and solitude that consumes him.
Julianne Moore is dazzling in her role as George’s one true friend. Her empty marriage and the lack of real love in her life are replaced with vanity and the material. As George’s comfort, familiarity and, at times, his greatest conflict, Moore gives a delicious performance that highlights her ability, as an actress, to truly understand a character and deliver the inner workings of a woman on to the silver screen. Nicholas Hoult also compliments Firth brilliantly as the new love interest and the lingering reminder of freedom and youth. Matthew Goode, plays George’s lover Jim, who fills George’s memory and haunts him like a cruel angel. It is the combination of these performances, along with Ford’s exquisite direction, that makes A Single Man such as striking piece of work .
For me, A Single Man is wonderful without trying to be. It is cool, collective and chaotic all at once. This film succeeds in the wonderful art of making you care about characters that aren’t necessarily very likeable individuals. George is matter of fact, slightly arrogant and closed off. Charley (Moore) is shallow and selfish and yet our hearts break as we watch them try to cope with losing true love and the heart wrenching agony of never being able to say goodbye.
A Single Man combines an exquisite script with detailed characters and performances that do such characters justice. This film is an example of a flawless adaptation from book to screen. Isherwood’s exploration of George and his grief is translated superbly and it is the use of visual colour that adds a perspective to the suffering in this story that only cinema could do. Undoubtedly one of my favourite films of the last ten years, A Single Man will draw you in, consume you and leave you feeling both empty and elated.
Thanks for reading and let’s all keep supporting our beloved film industry.