Fashion designer Tom Ford stumped up the $7million budget for his debut film as a director from his own pocket (oh, to have pockets so capacious), but A Single Man is far from a vanity project. Based on the 1964 novel by Christopher Isherwood, it’s a quietly moving drama of love and loss set in 1962 Los Angeles and takes place on a single day in the life of 52-year-old English-expat college professor George Falconer.
Superbly played by Colin Firth, George is impeccably turned out in perfectly tailored clothes: with Ford behind the lens, would you expect anything else? Inside, though, he’s a mess. He’s been ripped apart by grief following the death in a car crash of his long-time partner (played in flashbacks by Matthew Goode), but as a gay man it’s a grief he isn’t allowed to show.
Planning suicide, George somnambulates through what he intends to be his last day on earth. He visits his best friend, boozy, ageing glamourpuss Charley (played by Julianne Moore), and has encounters with his students, including sensitive young soul Kenny (played by About a Boy and Skins star Nicholas Hoult). But will anything or anyone make him reconsider his exit strategy?
As you’d expect from the man who turned around the fortunes of fashion house Gucci, A Single Man looks exquisite: a little too exquisite, to tell the truth. Every image is buffed to fashion-ad perfection. What gives the film heart and soul, however, is Firth’s incredible acting. A pitch-perfect study of bereavement, minimal yet expressive, full of subtlety and depth, Firth’s performance deserves (but probably won’t get) an Oscar.
On general release from 12th February.