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Review: A Single Man

There is no doubt that this is a labour of love for fashion designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford. Adapted from the novel by Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man is a subtly characterised and extremely moving meditation on love, loss and loneliness.

movie reviews Updated: Jul 10, 2010 15:10 IST
Rashid Irani

A Single Man
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore
Direction: Tom Ford
Rating: ****1/2

There is no doubt that this is a labour of love for fashion designer-turned-filmmaker Tom Ford. Adapted from the novel by Christopher Isherwood, A Single Man is a subtly characterised and extremely moving meditation on love, loss and loneliness.

The time is the early 1960s and the place is Los Angeles. A middle-aged British professor’s (Firth) life falls apart following the accidental death of his longtime partner (Matthew Goode). Most of the action takes place over the course of a single day with flashback snatches of their life together. Inconsolable with grief, the impeccably attired Englishman contemplates suicide. But his determination to kill himself is complicated by the sexual advances of one of his students (Nicholas Hoult) and a brief encounter with a young Spanish hustler. He also seeks solace from his lovelorn best friend (Moore) during a drunken dinner at her home.

The denouement is as unexpected as it is poignant. Admirably unsentimental, the film comes across as work of real significance in mainstream cinema. Debutant director Ford shows a masterly sense of composition. The seductive music score by Shigeru Umebayashi (who also composed for Wong Kar-Wai’s In The Mood for Love) is a valuable asset. Colin Firth, who deservedly snagged the Best Actor award at last year’s Venice film festival, and the redoubtable Julianne Moore deliver heart-wrenching performances. A Single Man is for those interested in serious cinema.