Every so often a career-defining performance by an actor is an unforgettable experience. Think Dustin Hoffman in "The Graduate" or Robert De Niro in "Taxi Driver." In the new film, "A Single Man," think Colin Firth.
It's a sunny day in November 1962 and the Cuban missile crisis is on the minds of most Americans. It's an important day for professor George Falconer (Firth) because he's decided that it will be his last. The pain over having lost his lover (Matthew Goode) of 16 years eight months ago has become unbearable. That coupled with juggling his private life and public persona has ceased making any sense to George. His long-time friend, Charley (Julianne Moore), is the only person with whom he can share his grief, but her growing neediness has become suffocating.
A glimmer of hope appears on the horizon in the form of an admiring student (Nicholas Hoult) late in the day. Could it be the salvation that George so desperately needs? Or is it simply his overly active imagination running away with him?
The creative designer for Gucci, Tom Ford, makes his directorial debut in "A Single Man," and it's stunning on all levels. Expectedly, impeccable attention to detail drives the visual, while a knack for casting couldn't have been more astute. Ford also co-scripted the engaging screenplay with David Searce.
Perhaps, the fact that Ford is openly gay is why the film is so vividly insightful. His use of lingering close-ups on Firth are so emotionally charged one would think the guy's been at it for years.
I've always thought of Colin Firth as a strong supporting actor in such films as "The English Patient" and "Bridget Jones's Diary" yet was never much impressed with him in leading roles (i.e."What a Girl Wants" and "And When Did You Last See Your Father?"). But his work in "A Single Man" absolutely floored me. The depth of his talent is exquisitely exposed in this heart-wrenching and beautiful film. I smell Oscar if George Clooney doesn't manage to pull it off.
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