A Single Man, (2009), directed by Tom Ford, tells the story of George Falconer (Colin Firth), an English professor living in the 1960s, Los Angeles; following the sudden death of his partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), George has sunk into depression and has decided to end his life. A Single Man is based on a novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood, charting the events of George’s life within the course of a single day. The focus of the film is on the fleeting moments, the small things that make life worth living—having made his decision, George goes through the day with a heightened awareness of all the beauty around him.
George: For the first time in my life I can’t see my future. Every day goes by in a haze, but today I have decided will be different.
Tom Ford is primarily known as an American fashion designer; having propelled the fashion house Gucci into fame, he is the name behind its success. It is no wonder that the cinematography radiates beauty in all aspects, including an elegant score by Abel Korzeniowski alongside the stunning visuals. In adapting the story to screen, Ford made the film his own by adding and replacing some details with events from his own life (for instance, the neighbor girl owning a pet scorpion).
In addition to the wonderfully choreographed visuals, A Single Man displays George’s feelings and thoughts through use of metaphors: his struggle with depression is shown as an underwater sequence, and a surge of pleasure (an exhilarating conversation, or a pretty smile) colors the screen with vibrant tones. As George notices and appreciates details, the camera zooms in and delights in these simple pleasures. Also the pace alters in accordance with his experience of time, where the scene slows down, or flicks between George’s memory and the present. One flashback, in which George discovers an old photograph of Jim, the scene plays out in black and white, like the photograph—almost as if the photograph comes alive.
George: A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity, when for a few brief seconds the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think, and things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them, but like everything, they fade. I have lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.