A Single Man
starring Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult and Matthew Goode
screenplay by Tom Ford and David Scearce
directed by Tom Ford
Based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood A Single Manis the story of a gay college English professor, George Falconer, in 1962 California dealing with the loss of his lover, Jim, by car accident. Jim died suddenly and unexpectedly while visiting his family. George learns of it indirectly from Jim’s relatives, not his immediate family. Jim’s family had no plan to include George in the memorial service, revealing in sharp relief the isolation and marginalization of gays in those days, before the gay rights movement. It was a completely different world from what prevails today in liberal democracies where homosexuals have more freedom to openly be themselves, and their rights to freedom from discrimination are basic.
The movie is set to a haunting violin score. All the action occurs in a single day, occasionally narrated by Firth’s character, and speckled with flashbacks to explain his relationship to his late partner as George prepares his suicide.
Throughout the film I kept thinking of it as a French existentialist art movie: wear black, smoke a lot of cigarettes and read important literature in paperback. I also kept comparing it in my head to the 1996 film If These Walls Could Talk (co-directed by Cher). That film explored the issue of abortion over a forty-year period - another social issue that has experienced a revolution contemporary America. Both films present artful contrasts between of now-and-then without failing to do credit to the characters and their stories in their times.
George is very ... clean, like Wilfred Bramble who played Paul McCartney’s clean grandfather in A Hard Day’s Night.