From the preview of Tom Ford's A Single Man, I was expecting something merely slick & stylish. Fortunately it turned out to be much more than that. The movie is certainly wonderful to look at. It's almost hyper-real, with its artificial shifts from drab tones into bright color, its seductive close-ups of eyes & lips, & its adoration of early 60's design (Were there really lavender-colored cigarettes then?). It is also a great period piece with much sly humor. For some reason I found it very funny when George, about to leave his office, washes down a few Bayer aspirins with the dregs from a bottle of Scotch in his desk drawer. I believe that shortly after this, he drives to a gun shop & buys bullets from a teenage shop assistant.
We see everything through the eyes of Colin Firth as George, & he does deserve all the accolades he has been receiving for his performance. In the scene in which George & Jim are home reading together on the couch, Mr. Firth only needs half a second to show us that George is dominated by the fear of losing Jim. Matthew Goode as Jim appears in only a few scenes, but we easily regret the loss of his sunny, self-assured character.
The Christopher Isherwood novel on which the movie is based is plotless & psychologically interior, seemingly poor movie material. Mr. Ford's adaptation is confident & impressively true. He evokes the period with sureness. The scene between Colin Firth & Julianne Moore as Charley made me think of Richard Burton & Elizabeth Taylor in Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf? I also liked the sad & ominous string score by Abel Korzeniowski. It could have been for a Hitchcock movie.