In our first glimpse of George, he's underwater. It's a dream, but an adequate representation of his current existence, submerged in grief after the death of his companion Jim. In Tom Ford's debut film, A Single Man, we float along with George over what may well be the last few days of his life (he's decided to kill himself). The film, as I suppose one might expect from a famous fashion designer, looks amazing, full of unusual close-ups and beautiful slow-motion imagery. As a gay man in 1962, George may be an "invisible minority," a term he uses in his English class, but he seems to see his world in hyper-real detail (whether or not it sees him). Some critics have argued that the film's raw emotions get lost in its stylistic flourishes, but (with a few exceptions) I don't think that's necessarily the case. The film, as much as anything else, is a reflection on the nature of time--the desire to hasten one's own march toward death; the difficulty of taking pleasure in one's immediate surroundings--and as such justifies much of its visual and storytelling extravagance. And then there's Colin Firth as George. I'm sure I've written him off many times as simply someone for young women to swoon over in Jane Austen adaptations and forgettable romantic comedies, but it turns out he's the real deal. Sorry, Firth! And Julianne Moore, as his boozy, long-time, long-suffering friend Charley, is equally powerful.
Verdict: visually striking and incredible performances (and you'll only find one of those qualities in Avatar!).