A Single Man

by director Tom Ford

When several years ago I set out in earnest to make my first film I had to find my voice as a filmmaker. I knew what I stood for as a fashion designer but I had to be ruthless and ask myself why anyone would need to see a Tom Ford film. Who cares? What did I have to say?
For me, story is everything and ultimately I believe that a film should challenge the viewer and that a film should haunt and linger long after one leaves the theater. We seem to have lost character and story-driven films with dialogue, and these are ultimately the most rewarding films for me as a viewer. This is the type of film I set out to make.
I first read the book A Single Man by Christopher Isherwood in the early 1980s and was moved by the honesty and simplicity of the story. Three years ago, after searching for the right project to develop as my first film it occurred to me that I often thought of this novel and its protagonist, “George.” I picked it up and read it again. Now in my late forties, the book resonated with me in an entirely different way. It is a deeply spiritual story, of one day in the life of a man who cannot see his future. Often darkly humorous it is a universal tale of coming to terms with the isolation that we all feel, and of the importance of living in the present and understanding that the small things in life are really the big things in life.
Set in Los Angeles almost 50 years ago, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer, a 52-year-old British college professor played by Colin Firth who gives a nuanced and stunning performance. George is struggling to find meaning to his life after the death of his longtime partner, Jim, played by Matthew Goode. Colin’s character cannot shake a deep depression and so decides to end his life. Thinking that he is seeing things for the last time he finds himself living in the present for the first time in years and confronted with the beauty of the world. Nicholas Hoult gives a terrific performance as a young student drawn to George on this particular day. Julianne Moore plays George’s breathtakingly beautiful onetime lover Charley, and her performance is layered, heartbreaking and powerful.
While the hero of A Single Man is gay, the film transcends sexuality. Love is love and this is the story of a single man’s search for meaning in his life.
This film is perhaps the thing that I am the most proud of in my life. I believe that a good film should be both entertaining and thought-provoking. In that way, I hope that A Single Man makes you question things…think about things in a way that you haven’t thought about before.
I have always believed that a film should speak for itself and I hope that A Single Man speaks to you.

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