It is 1962 Los Angeles and George (Colin Firth, no really), an émigré Londoner teaching English, suffers the crippling loss of his partner and soul mate of 16 years Jim in a car crash. His devastation is compounded by his being informed that the funeral is “for family only”, a clear rejection of the validity of their relationship.
We join him eight months on and witness his journey from almost clinical detachment from those around him, to coming to a realisation that maybe he can move on, via a series of encounters. From his former female lover (Julianne Moore), a random meeting with a Spanish wanabee actor, to a life changing affirmation of the joys of living from one of his pupils wonderfully played by fellow Brit and major star in the making Nicolas Hoult (Skins, Wah Wah) we are party to the inner most turmoil’s that George suffers, whilst trying to keep the show on the road as a means of self preservation.
The themes are strong, and parts of the film are very hard to watch due to the profound despair on offer. Tom Ford’s respectful dialogue and direction show a real empathy and belief in the characters created by Christopher Isherwood. Suicidal thoughts and feelings are incredibly difficult to convey without veering into either voyeurism or sentimentality, but this film nailed it and you won’t see a better performance from Colin Firth in his career
I have not been so moved, or have cause to reflect on life by a movie since Steve McQueen’s Hunger. A Single Man is a great film.