Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man was, I think, a richer experience having seen Chris & Don: A Love Story. It’s a documentary about the relationship between A Single Man‘s author, Christopher Isherwood (best known for writing The Berlin Tales which inspired Cabaret) and his partner, artist Don Bachardy, and worth watching in its own right.
A Single Man is almost too formal of a film, every bit of color precise in a way that rivals the desaturation of Medicine for Melancholy. Eight months after the death of his partner Jim (Matthew Goode, rocking an American accent), George Falconer (Colin Firth, aging well) has decided to kill himself. The film is strikingly internal, though not claustrophobic for that. We follow him through his last day, through what he knows are goodbyes, through the weight of memories & the brief shining moments that, with a flash of color, literally brighten his day. The film maintains the ending of the novella which I think is a mistake, but aside from that, it is perfection.
Since I complain about American gay film so much, I must acknowledge that Mr Ford has pulled it off; A Single Man is first and foremost a film about grief. It’s not divorced from sexuality — there are several heartbreaking moments about the gay experience in the 1960s — but it’s a film first and a gay film second. It’s about time, and it’s ironic, I suppose, that it’s based on a novella published over 40 years ago.
(On a side note, it took me half of the movie to figure out who Nicholas Hoult reminds me of, now that he’s all grown up. Answer? Colin Morgan. Or perhaps Colin Morgan if he had a sandwich. Hoult’s pretty thin too, but Morgan can injure himself on his own cheekbones.)