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A Single Man
Colin Firth in memorable lead as bereaving Brit don in LA
Reviewed by Matthew Arnoldi
Friday, 12 February 2010 - 3:08am
Tom Ford's carefully rendered romantic drama 'A Single Man' sees Colin Firth taking a memorable anchor role as George Falconer, a British College don working in LA.
Set in 1962 at the time of the Cuban missile crisis, we follow George through the course of a single day. George seems to have a lot going for him in his life. He's got a comfortable style of living, living in a nice house, he has a respected job in the College and his pupils look up to him. George though, we realise, has suffered a personal loss, the loss of a gay partner and its hitting him hard, sufficiently so that we can see on this one day that he's getting his life in order and is prepared to commit suicide to the point of taking a gun with him in his briefcase.
George simply can't see a point to living anymore following the loss of Jim (Matthew Goode). Perhaps his closest girl friend Charley (Julianne Moore) can save him from what he is about to do even if she is doesn't know what he is contemplating.
As with many of the film roles, Firth has undertook, George really comes to life in his hands. Its not difficult to get wrapped up in the despair he's feeling, the hollowness that overwhelms from the significant loss of a loved one is a universal, tangible pain that many who have lost a loved one will be able to identify with, whether through relationship breakdown or as in this case, a more terminal loss and the feeling that if your loved one is in the next life, may you should go too. After all what else is there to live for ? Its certainly a worthy credit that Colin Firth has been nominated for various Best Actor awards for his role in this film. Its a strong performance worthy of an award.
Director Tom Ford has come up with a remarkably assured debut here. What is pleasing is that he has adapted Christopher Isherwood's novel with careful thought. Characters have depth, the story builds but also keeps you guessing. We see something of George's relationship with Jim early on, but don't get the full picture until the final reel. By then, George has met someone knew but we can see how in love with Jim he really was, and losing your true loved one before its truly time for them to go, must be a universal fear. Its too glib to then be thinking George you need to carry on with your life and that life's for living when many in their sudden isolation would think differently.
Colin Firth is ably supported by Julianne Moore and Matthew Goode in the supporting roles, and there's something refreshing in seeing the way the film has been set in the early 60's in LA when america was in a state of flux and genuine transition - that adds to the uncertainity George feels towards the future. In charting the significant actions of one day in which a character may end up dying by the end of it, the film echoes 'American Beauty' and another delightful moment to look out for is Colin Firth and Julianne Moore dancing to 60's hit 'Green Onions' in the living room, and yes I can assure you they're both good movers!
Another credit I could give to the film, is the fact that you have to witness the first few scenes of the film, and you can immediately tell that the dialogue is well written and for that alone, it will be a delight to watch.
If you're looking for a film that both tests the mind and has a strong romantic core, look no further than 'A Single Man' because it is unlikely to disappoint, and with the awards season almost upon us, I shall be looking and hoping the film picks up 1-2 gongs because they would be well deserved in this case.