A Single Man

2009

A Single Man

Critics Consensus

Though the costumes are beautiful and the art direction impeccable, what stands out most from this debut by fashion designer Tom Ford is the leading performance by Colin Firth.

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 188

81%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 58,143
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A Single Man Photos

Movie Info

In Los Angeles 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis George Falconer, a 52 year old British college professor is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his long time partner, Jim. George dwells on the past and cannot see his future as we follow him through a single day, where a series of events and encounters, ultimately lead him to decide if there is a meaning to life after Jim. George is consoled by his closest friend Charley, a 48-year-old beauty who is wrestling with her own questions about the future.

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Cast

Colin Firth
as George Falconer
Julianne Moore
as Charlotte
Ginnifer Goodwin
as Mrs. Strunk
Ryan Simpkins
as Jennifer Strunk
Teddy Sears
as Mr. Strunk
Paul Butler
as Christopher Strunk
Aaron Sanders
as Tom Strunk
Keri Lynn Pratt
as Blonde Secretary
Jenna Gavigan
as Other Secretary #1
Alicia Carr
as Other Secretary #2
Lee Pace
as Grant
Ridge Canipe
as Young Boy
Elisabeth Harnois
as Young Woman
Erin Daniels
as Bank Teller
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News & Interviews for A Single Man

Critic Reviews for A Single Man

All Critics (188) | Top Critics (46)

  • This is an important homosexual film based on a first-rate novel with a first-rate cast and probably a harbinger of similar movies to come. Many viewers will be disappointed that the movie only hints at intimacy rather than showcasing it.

    Jan 16, 2018 | Full Review…

    Ed Koch

    The Atlantic
    Top Critic
  • Firth's portrayal of a man repressing his grief while being unable to repress his instinct for love and for life is excellent and moving, while Ford's balancing of depth and surface is precarious but ultimately winning.

    Feb 16, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Dave Calhoun

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • The film is an aesthetic pleasure, like being in a designer hotel, reading a deliciously sad novel.

    Feb 16, 2010 | Rating: 4/5 | Full Review…

    Kate Muir

    Times (UK)
    Top Critic
  • The private tragedy of George is never transformed into the gripping stuff of public drama; his story doesn't become our story. While A Single Man may dazzle the eye, it leaves the heart untouched.

    Feb 16, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Delicately, and rather brilliantly, Firth suggests how his quiet heroism is mingled with notes of irony and self-deprecation. It is a poignant, deeply compassionate portrait.

    Feb 16, 2010 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • The kind of confident debut that radiates personality and visual flair while retaining a quietly fluttering heart.

    Feb 16, 2010 | Rating: 4/5

Audience Reviews for A Single Man

  • Jun 20, 2017
    This is a quiet, somber, and loving film, plumbing the depths of grief after the loss of one's partner in life. Colin Firth is an English professor whose partner, played by Matthew Goode, has died in a car accident. He is consoled by his friend (Julianne Moore), but is having a lot of trouble snapping out of his despondency. It's a strong cast and Firth and Moore in particular turn in great performances. The beauty of the film, just as in life, is in all of its little moments. Firth's relationship with Goode is told in brief, touching flashbacks, which feel like real memories. A student's (Nicholas Hoult) attraction to him is told very subtly, in the eyes. Firth is morose, but shaken out of his routine and contemplating life and death, takes the opportunity to tell people kind things, the things he normally wouldn't have expressed. He also recognizes those singular moments in life when one sees with absolute clarity, and the way director Tom Ford tells us this is touching and profound. The fact that the people involved in this story are gay is secondary, although it is nice that the movie shows us these relationships are like any other, and the painful consequences of societal rejection. In a heartbreaking scene, Firth's character is not allowed to attend his partner of 16 years' funeral because it's for """family only""", but Ford exercises the perfect amount of restraint, and doesn't dwell on this any further. While teaching his class, Firth describes irrational fear as the motivating factor behind hatred of minorities, something heightened when a minority is invisible and walking among us. He's of course alluding to homosexuality, but how appropriate this general message is in 2017, when the outcome of fear has been so clearly felt in U.S. politics.
    Antonius B Super Reviewer
  • Apr 06, 2015
    A Single Man feels more like the prelude to a fashion show than an actual motion-picture, and whilst the film and plot are impeccably solid, it suffers from a certain aura of "style over substance" and not enough depth as it could've had. The debut film of fashion engenue Tom Ford, A Single Man is both heartachingly melancholy and richly probing into the life of a lonely homosexual widower in the sixties. Colin Firth is brilliant and brave in the role, whilst Julianne Moore and Nicholas Hoult offer beneficial support, however both are slightly over-shadowed by the pace and performance of Firth. Seemingly inspired by the work of Lars Von Trier, A Single Man is really quite beautiful but not one of the best films I have ever seen.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Jul 20, 2013
    "Forget your lust... for the rich man's gold... all that you need... is in your soul... and you can do this... if you try... All that I want for you my son... is to be satisfied... and be a single... kind of man!" Man, it sure took Ronnie Van Zant a while to get that song's verses and chorus out, so I suppose that song really fits when discussing this film, because the next film that got Colin Firth Oscar attention also dealt with him taking a while to get a sentence out. Boy, Firth sure does know his speech impediments, so, as you can imagine, one of my bigger disappointments in this film is its not having Firth do some kind of a unique speech thing, because one can only imagine what a flamboyant gay Brit who has lived in California for too long would sound like. Actually, speaking of gay people, allow me to take back my reference to "Simple Man" earlier, as I don't know if a southern rock song belongs anywhere in this film, seeing as how it takes place in 1960s California ([u]Southern[/u] California, mind you, but California, nonetheless), and is so gay that it is by a fashion designer. Of course, then again, the story of Lynyrd Skynyrd has its depressing moments (Look up information on Allen Collins' final years and try not to say, "Jeez, maybe Van Zant and the Gaines brothers got it easy when they were killed instantly in that plane crash"), just like this film's story about some gay man getting ready to off himself after his lover dies. Okay, perhaps the film isn't as upsetting as it appears to be in broad concept, though it has its moving moments, and yet, Firth's not having a gay British accent is not the only disappointing aspect to this film. At just about 100 minutes, this film doesn't have a whole lot of time to slow down, yet it still makes the time, or at least feels like it does, because even though limp spells aren't as recurring as I feared, when the atmosphere gets cold, blandness really starts to set in, sometimes to the point of dulling things down, and consistently to the point of emphasizing a certain dragging to the narrative that in turn reflects the narrative's unevenness. Pacing inconsistency is not the only storytelling aspect plagued by inconsistency spawned from an overdrawn narrative, because as minimalist as this story whose primary focus is a single day is, it tackles several layers that would feel more organic if the film didn't either spend too much time focusing upon one aspect of this story or take on too much material to keep up with, resulting in a focal unevenness that proves to be almost as clumsy as yet another, particularly glaring type of inconsistency. The film generally follows a traditionalist and focused storytelling structure, but, believe it or not, for only so long before eventually jarring into "art house" storytelling sensibilities, particularly an thoughtful and stylish meditation upon symbolic imagery and dialogue whose intention is understandable, as well as often effective, - serving as both a compliment to the film's thematic value and a simulator for the point-of-view of our lead George Falconer character - though certainly not to where you can forget the stylish moments in storytelling's fitting inorganically in the midst of a generally conventionally structured narrative, and being questionable by its own right. Some would argue that director Tom Ford's questionable stylistic choices reflect pretense, but really, I find that the most unnervingly unique areas within Ford's storytelling merely reflect an ambition to craft a drama that, in many ways, is carried by its thoughtful artistic value, which is noble, but ultimately misguided, because even with all of the genuinely effective moments within Ford's artistic punch-up, Ford, whether it be because of his lack of experience as a filmmaker or simply because of his getting carried away with his artistic license, gets to be uneven and overwrought with many of his stylistic touches, and that lays heavy blows to substance whose compellingness is shaken enough by natural shortcomings. With all of my complaints about the glaring and distancing inconsistencies in storytelling, this story was always doomed to be held back, having plenty of dramatic kick, but too much in the way of minimalism for compellingness to be all that meaty, thus leaving this execution of a peccable story to stand on a shaky ground that could very well collapse and leave the final product to tumble into underwhelmingness. Sure, the strengths in this film are considerable, so much so that they almost compensate for the shortcomings, but the fact is that there are, in fact, flaws to the telling of a minimalist tale, and that's the last thing this ambitious project needs if it wants to sustain the reward value that ultimately slips through its fingers, thanks to unevenness. Still, if nothing else is consistent, it is compellingness, which is diluted by the consequential and natural shortcomings that ultimately prevail in establishing underwhelmingness, yet are challenged time and again by a certain degree of inspiration found within most every aspect of this film, including the artistic aspects. The film's score is unevenly used, as well as formulaic in some areas, but it matters not, as Abel Korzeniowski's efforts, occasionally accompanied by additional compositions by Shigeru Umebayashi, are truly outstanding in their haunting minimalism, ingeniously backed by a heartfelt tenderness that proves to be both key in the complimenting of this drama's most emotionally and artistically effective moments, as well as beautiful by their own right, much like the film's visual style, as cinematographer Eduard Grau plays with various color palettes in a unique fashion that at least keeps consistent in a certain inviting warmth, complimented by striking lighting that, when really played up alongside color's lushness, proves to breathtaking at times. A well-regarded fashion designer, director Tom Ford, even as a newcomer, has had years to flesh out his artistic eye, and his stunning tastes in artistry can be found within his selection of the filming team, as well as within his selection of the artistic team, headed by art director Ian Phillips, whose collaboration with production designer Dan Bishop and costume designer Arianne Phillips ultimately presents set and costume designs that both sell this film's setting of California in the early-'60s, and soak up the style of the era with a thorough handsomeness. On top of delivering on beautiful musical aspects, this film offers a fine smorgasbord of eye candy, whether it be lovely photography or outstanding art direction, so on a stylistic level, at least outside of storytelling style, this very artistically powered project is nothing short of impeccable, but when it comes to the heart of this drama, much credit is also due. The final product's collapse into underwhelmingness is not exactly a colossal misfortune, because, as I said, there's a certain minimalism to this drama's story concept that thins out potential, but only so much, as this very human meditation upon the mindset of a troubled man whose peers could very well save the life he plans on ending boasts some pretty heavy subject matter that can really compel if executed properly, as it is about as often as it isn't, thanks in part to a script by Tom Ford and David Scearce that delivers on both clever dialogue and thoughtful characterization which adds to the character study's human depths, truly brought to life by highlights in Ford's direction, whose intelligent and tasteful approach to storytelling tenderly meditates upon the environment and its human occupants, often in an overstylized way, but just as often in an effective way that is generally compelling and sometimes moving, perhaps even piercing. Needless to say, there aren't enough high points in Ford's directorial efforts to battle back the underwhelmingness that was always to at least threaten the film, due to natural shortcomings and misguided storytelling moments, - particularly those of an artistically ultrastylized persuasion - yet true overall strength is almost achieved through a fair deal of glimpses into what could have been: a rewarding character drama, anchored by fine performances, or at least one in particular, which still stands in the final product as the only consistently realized component to a worthy vision. Sure, there are strong performances throughout the supporting cast, but the true driving power to this character drama is leading man Colin Firth, who marries a distinguished presence with moderate color that establishes a well-rounded humanity within the intelligent and good-hearted George Falconer character, reinforced by subtle emotional range that sells the anguish of our unstable lead, with dramatic heights that are haunting in their powerful, effortless commitment. Firth's performance stands to be a bit less underwritten, but Firth ultimately becomes Falconer through a heartfelt commitment that carries this film, and while I wish there was more weight to the onscreen and offscreen performances for the final product to stand as at least almost as strong as Firth's performance, there is enough inspiration to this drama to craft a reasonably engaging final product, even though it could have been more. Overall, there's a certain blanding inconsistency in pacing that is not as considerable as the inconsistency in focus and the even greater inconsistency in storytelling style, whose most questionably over-artistic moments reflect an overambition as is itself reflective of natural shortcomings that, when backed by consequential shortcomings, drive the final product into underwhelmingness, but just barely, as there is enough beauty to Abel Korzeniowski's score and Eduard Grau's cinematography, handsome immersion value to Ian Phillips' art direction, and highlights to the writing, direction and acting - especially by committed leading man Colin Firth - which do an adequate degree of justice to an adequately engaging story concept for Tom Ford's "A Single Man" to stand as a consistently enjoyable and sometimes powerful, if ultimately held back study on a man seeking a change in his miserable life, even if it means concluding it. 2.75/5 - Decent
    Cameron J Super Reviewer
  • Apr 08, 2013
    Absolutely beautiful and just amazing. Can't believe I just watched it now.
    Cita W Super Reviewer

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