Elegantly and ominously, A Single Man begins with a naked George, played by Colin Firth, sinking slowly underwater. In one sense it gives the feeling of re-birth, though in such a grave manner that it’s also reminiscent of a slow, weighted death. The scene quickly flashes to a car crash on a cold, snowy day in which George, finds himself on the scene of the fatal accident of his long-time partner Jim (Matthew Goode). Though dreaming, George finds himself very much awake, confronted with the reality that his life’s love and best friend lay dead, not far from the totaled car.

The wind blows, the blood red contrasts brutally with the white of the snow, and Jim’s glazed, dead-blue eyes are open. George lies down next to his partner, closes his eyes, and gives him a kiss, all of which force him to see the reality of his circumstances, and in reality, cause him to wake up to a beautiful day alone in the breathtaking glass house where Jim once resided by his side.

Though George’s dream seems to confront him with the truth, forcing him to feel and literally wake up, it seems as though upon being awake George goes back to sleep, slowly sinking, and barely allowing himself to feel uncomfortably numb due to the aching reality of a life without his love.

The film takes place during the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, when paranoia and judgment were common courtesies and being gay was far from normal. Colin Firth’s character, George, is a professor in a Los Angeles area College where he attempts to introduce his students to higher order thinking and fails. He fails, however, with the exception of one student, Kenny (Nicholas Hoult) who takes a keen interest and concern in George. He seems to understand that something is missing and that possibly, George is sinking.

George buys bullets and has everything set up; he doesn’t want to live a life without Jim. With interruptions from his fellow Brit-born friend, Charley (Julianne Moore), a lusty and lonely encounter with Carlos (Jon Kortajarena), and consistent meetings with a worried, youthful, bright-minded Kenny, George is slowly forced to feel.

Tom Ford, the director, and well-known fashion designer, uses powerful angles, vivid colors, and both ominous and thoughtful visuals throughout the film. His intriguing attention to detail and Abel Korzeniowski and Shigeru Umebayashi’s incredibly emotional musical talent, compliment Ford’s film brilliantly. Based on the novel by Christopher Isherwood, Ford takes a man like any other, and makes him unlike any other. In this breathtakingly beautiful film, Ford forces us to see the unordinary in everything ordinary and welcomes us into the heart and soul of a man whose every movement allow us to feel as though we are him.

Starring: Colin Firth, Nicholas Hoult, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Jon Kortajarena
Director: Tom Ford
Runtime: 101 Minutes
Distributor: The Weinstein Company
Rating: R

Read more about: