Film Review: A SINGLE MAN

Directed by Tom Ford
Written by Tom Ford, based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood
Starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholad Hoult and Matthew Goode
Release Date: December 17, 2009
Running Time: 99 minutes

Your enjoyment of this film is going to depend on whether you believe that a thing of beauty is a joy forever and I am not talking about Colin Firth. Director Tom Ford comes from the world of fashion and the film resonates with his aesthetic sense in every frame. Colin Firth carries both the film’s reliance on slick settings and high fashion and its near total fascination with the manifestations of grief on his very fragile shoulders. He must have lost thirty pounds to play this part. Firth’s ability to show grief in the twitch of an eyebrow, in the droop of a shoulder makes this frail vehicle work.

Plot: Eight months ago George Falconer’s (Colin Firth) lover (Matthew Goode) died in a horrible car crash. It is 1962 and they were closeted gay men; George is unable to even attend the funeral. Falconer is an English professor who seems bereft of friends, save his oldest one, Charley (Julianne Moore). The film takes place over the course of one day, a day when he debates killing himself. During that day, he spends time with Charley, is pursued by a student who sees him as a mentor/lover (Nicholas Hoult) and is approached by a Spanish prostitute. The viewer also gets some idea of what his life with his lover was like but probably not enough. The film wants to be about grief more than is good for it.

I doubt this film is for everyone. The ending was not particularly satisfying to any of the people I saw it with. Ford is far too preoccupied with his setting and wardrobe. But Colin Firth’s performance is brilliant throughout and mostly for that reason, I recommend it.


Patti Abbott writes crime fiction short stories. She hosts a look at Forgotten Books every Friday with readers, writers and reviewers at She hopes you’ll join in.