at the movies: a single man.

A Single Man (2009, The Weinsten Company)
Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult. Directed by Tom Ford. Written for the screen by Tom Ford & David Scearce. Based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood. Producers: Jason Alisharan, Tom Ford, Andrew Miano, Robert Salerno, Chris Weitz.
 
Set in 1962 southern California, A Single Man tells the story of professor and Brit George Falconer who is coping with the death of his longtime partner, Jim. The film opens as a captivating character study of a man dealing with grief, loss, loneliness and the forced repression of his relationship.
 
The first half of A Single Man follows George through what appears to be a typical day in his uneasy life as a man adjusts to the loss of his spouse in such great detail, you are immediately drawn into his world, his thoughts and his pain. Colin Firth’s portrayal as George was pitch perfect in its understated sadness. Even when he’s laughing, you feel his pain. Firth was deserving of his Academy Award nomination.
 
While A Single Man loses focus somewhere toward the latter third of the film, Firth’s performance saves it. He keeps you focused on George’s every move, thought and expression. Director Tom Ford’s vision of George’s world—his immaculate home, his OCD and his routine—was so stunning in its simplicity and artistic framing. From the use of color to the shot itself, Ford and cinematographer Eduard Grau recreate early 1960s America with equal parts authenticity, texture and clarity. Julianne Moore doesn’t get enough credit for her take on George’s boozy, tawdry friend Charley, whose own pain and sadness bubble to the surface.
 
But at the end of the day, A Single Man shines because of Colin Firth. His performance is so engrossing it overshadows all other details. An emotional, poignant movie, A Single Man drives home its central theme with compassion and honesty without being cliché or bawdy. Well worth watching.
 
My rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

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