They say you need to learn to crawl before you can walk. Such advice might have been valuable for fashion designer turned film director Tom Ford, who helmed "A Single Man," the story of George Falconer, a professor who has been trying to get on with his life following the sudden death of his longtime partner.
The film is shot in an attractive, moody palette that is appropriate for the story's tone. Ford obviously has a good eye for detail. The problem, however, is that he uses imagery to beat metaphors to death. A repeated scene of a nude Colin Firth floating underwater was viable once. The second and third times it becomes too much. Same with some slow motion sequences.
Firth, certainly, is the film's saving grace. With a lesser actor in the lead role, "A Single Man" would have come across as maudlin and pretentious. He's never been an overt actor, which is an attribute here. The character of George needs to walk a fine line between peace and unrest. Firth's performance is quiet and powerful, well worthy of his Leading Actor Oscar nomination. He's unlikely to surpass Jeff Bridges in "Crazy Heart," but the praise he's received is well warranted. Anyone with a modicum of a soul will feel for Falconer.
Supporting actors Matthew Goode and Julianne Moore add some levity to what is otherwise a gut-punch of a picture. They also provide a do-and-don't demonstration of taking on accents. British actor Goode is easily convicing as a Los Angeleno, however, North Carolina-born Moore's British accent is the stuff of high school Shakespeare plays.
The movie is based on the Christopher Isherwood's novel, which was touted as a masterpiece of modern gay literature.