Sad … with style.
While A Single Mancould have simply relied on the stylistic eye of well-known fashion designer, Tom Ford, as his directorial debut in film, the story of a man grieving over his homosexual lover and contemplating suicide is rendered beautiful, not only through its highly visual presentation, but also through its performances, dialogue and plot progression which wonderfully explore the deeply sad but also inspiring qualities of life that can be found in the places and people around you.
George (Firth) is planning his final day alive. He prepares for his suicide with almost obsessive compulsive perfection, lining up his final letters, will and hand gun as a ritual of closure to put an end to his eight months of grieving the death of his boyfriend (Goode). But as the day progresses and George attends to his everyday duties teaching as a college professor, spending quality time with his good friend, Charley (Moore, who plays the washed-up British socialite with brilliant conviction), and getting to know a rather keen student from his class, George can’t help but revisit the pains and beauty of his lost love.
With a nod to the soaring soundtrack of Hitchcock’s Vertigo, A Single Man is as intensely aware of its visual power as the Hitchcock classic. Saturating every single shot with colour, and visual direction that proves Ford to be as much of a perfectionist as the character of George himself, A Single Man powerfully immerses the audience in the thoughts, memories and emotions of a man suffering loss in many different aspects of his life.
Firth delivers a performance that lives up to the depth and complexity that Ford seeks in his visual narrative style. I would even go so far as to say that without Firth, A Single Man could have simply ended up an overly artistic and painfully pretentious film that simply feels like you’re flipping through a high fashion magazine. Instead, we get a rich story that is compelling and deeply impressive – confined to a single day in the life of a single man.