Tom Ford and David Scearce (screenplay), based on a novel by Christopher Ishwerwood, Tom Ford (director) A Single Man / 2009
Tom Ford's first feature film, A Single Man is a beautiful and intentionally serious work, presenting the last day in a Literature Professor's life. George Falconer (brilliantly played by Colin Firth) is a gay man who has lost his lover, Jim (Matthew Goode), in an accident, and has since that time lost himself to grief, stumbling through the early 1960s society (the Cuban Missile Crisis of October 1962 is played in the background a of couple of times during the film's action) like a dead man walking, unable to connect with his neighbors—the Strunks, with three somewhat obnoxious children—with his students—to whom he attempts to teach Aldous Huxley's novel After Many a Summer Dies a Swan, a book, appropriately about death and longevity—or reconnect with his close woman friend, Charley (Julianne Moore). It is a time when being gay, particularly for a careful and slightly fastidious man like George, is not openly shared; and after having had sixteen apparently happy years with his companion, he is quite frankly all alone in life, a man who at times feels truly singular, if not entirely "single."
To increase the drama of his film version of Isherwood's 1964 novel, Ford has slightly altered the plot so that on this particular day, the day we follow his actions from waking up until his death, George has determined that he will kill himself, ending his utter loneliness and, as he wryly describes his New Year's resolution to Charley, to put to rest the things of the past.
On the day of his intended suicide, moreover, his student, the radiantly fresh Kenny (played by the photogenic Nicholas Hoult) openly flirts with him. A stunningly handsome Spanish James Dean look-a-like (played by eye-catching model Jon Kortajarena) is ready to jump into his car and bed if he wants. And then there's the sky, the glorious sunset over the city of Los Angeles! We are told, of course, that sometimes the most beautiful things are dangerous; that incredible sunset, after all, is a product of pollution, while in the background is a poster for Hitchcock's Psycho. George is apparently in danger, despite all these lovely trappings.
The two now attempt a game of trying to find just how far the other will go, until they discover themselves swimming naked in the ocean and return home to George's intended house of horrors. Despite the sexual overtones, or even "overtures," no actual sex occurs as George, exhausted by his games, falls asleep after nights of lying awake. He awakens to find Kenny asleep in the other room, guarding the discovered handgun within his blankets to protect the older man. George steals it away from the sleeping angel, locking it up.
Los Angeles, December 16, 2009