A Single Man (2009)

Content by Tony Macklin. Originally published on February 13, 2010 @ tonymacklin.net.

There's still a place in movies for small, literate, well-acted niche movies that focus on character.

In the cinema of explosions and rampant CGI, occasionally character still matters. A Single Man has character.

Based on a short story by English writer Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man is about George Falconer (Colin Firth), who is a British expatriate, college professor in Los Angeles in 1962.

When his long-time partner (Matthew Goode) dies, his world is destroyed. He isn't even allowed to attend the funeral. George tries to fathom the wake of the death.

The plot may sound thankless, but Colin Firth's muted, modulated performance is worth the price of admission. It's not showy, but it does have considerable impact. In fact, Firth has received an Oscar nomination as Best Actor. It's the quietest performance of the nominees.

Into George's life comes Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), a young student who is interested in the prof. Hoult played the boy in About a Boy (2002). Boy, has he grown up.

There is one "showy" role in A Single Man. Julianne Moore broadly plays Charley, George's best friend, a frustrated, female, bibulous lost cause.

Screenwriter/director Tom Ford -- a fashion designer -- gives his first feature a keen, visual look.

But A Single Man essentially belongs to Colin Firth -- he's the sensitive eye in the blind storm of life. His suicide attempt in a sleeping bag is an amusing tours de force.

Firth renders humanity in a life or death struggle. It's a quiet but potent, and memorable, struggle.

© 2000-2024 Tony Macklin