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A Single Man

Year: 2009
Production Co: Artina Films
Director: Tom Ford
Writer: Tom Ford
Cast: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Nicholas Hoult, Ginnifer Goodwin, Matthew Goode

As you'd expect from such a visual stylist as fashion photographer John Ford, A Single Man looks great. It's set in the early 60s just before the sexual revolution started to take off and the period detail is not only spot on in everything from the cars and clothes to the landscapes and architecture, it's a recognisable stylised version of it - all slender ties, thick rimmed glasses, martini suits and beehive hairdos.

There's also a very subtle design aesthetic you might not notice consciously, one of clean lines and straight edges. I don't now if Ford meant for it to be an allegory of the world George (Firth) inhabits as a gay man who has to keep his true self hidden because it's a straight world, but that's what I read into it.

George is a middle aged teacher who lives a happy if secretive life with his younger boyfriend, and the film opens on what he intends to be his last day on Earth. As we see through flashbacks, George's boyfriend has died in a car crash and George can't see a way he'll ever be happy again, despite his work and the students who look up to him (including one who seems like a potential suitor) or his best friend and fellow Brit expat, alcoholic party girl Charley (Moore).

George spends the day planning to end his life, getting his affairs in order and trying not to connect with the people around him, but he can't help but do so and be reminded of happier times he wonders whether life isn't perhaps worth living after all.

The story's nothing too complicated but Firth nails the stiff upper lip British man masking inner anguish. The selling point is the look, a love letter to another era almost like a well-resourced photo shoot.

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