A Single Man

It's 1962. We remember the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Princess phones, the tail fins on cars, the bouffant hairdos, the outrageous eye makeup and the narrow ties, but not one single gay person. That's because in those days, they were firmly closeted. This means when Colin Firth's character loses his beloved partner of sixteen years in a car wreck, he isn't notified until later, nor is he invited to the funeral (it's for family only) and is forced to mourn in solitude.

Fashion maven Tom Ford has written, produced and directed his first screenplay, based on a short story by Christopher Isherwood. To me, it's a little too stylish, but given the characters and the time period, maybe everything was over the top in those days. Ford certainly has given us a recognizable style and has drawn remarkable performances from the four leads:
  • Colin Firth (our favorite Mr. Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice"), is utterly convincing as a meticulous, witty, warm-hearted college professor. Not since "Apartment Zero" has he so affected me.
  • Matthew Goode is his deceased lover; we can enjoy his company only in flashbacks. UK-born Goode impresses me with his versa- tility. He was an evil American thug in "The Lookout," a silver-spoon-in-the-mouth Brit in "Match Point" and here he is Ameri- can once again, a gay Naval officer.
  • Nicholas Hoult plays one of our hero's students. I was amazed to see that conniving and desperate little guy from one of my favorites, "About a Boy," has now grown taller than Firth!
  • Julianne Moore ("Blindness") is a blowzy neighbor who moved to L.A. from London years ago. A one-time lover and long-time friend, confidante, and drinking buddy, she is the only person who understands our single man's grief.

I found this poignant movie to be unpredictable, very funny at times, and thoroughly captivating. One scene, which involves a potential suicide, features a key aria from the opera La Wally in which the heroine pre- pares to leap to her death. What an excellent choice for background music!

Personally, I'm glad he forgot to take the bread back out of the freezer...