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A Single Man
Directed by Tom Ford
Produced by Tom Ford
Andrew Miano
Robert Salerno
Chris Weitz
Written by Tom Ford
David Scearce
Christopher Isherwood (Book)
Starring Colin Firth
Julianne Moore
Matthew Goode
Nicholas Hoult
Music by Abel Korzeniowski
(Additional music by Shigeru Umebayashi)
Cinematography Eduard Grau
Editing by Joan Sobel
Studio Artina Films
Depth of Field
Fade to Black
Distributed by The Weinstein Company
Release date(s) December 11, 2009 (2009-12-11)
Running time 99 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $7 million[1]
Gross revenue $15,732,547 (worldwide)[2]

A Single Man is a 2009 American drama film based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Isherwood. It was directed by fashion designer Tom Ford, who, as a first-time director, had to finance it himself.[3] The film stars Colin Firth as the protagonist George Falconer, a gay British university professor living in Southern California in 1962. The film places emphasis on the clothes and architecture of the 1960s; the production design is by the same team that designed the TV series Mad Men, which is set in the same era.[4]

The film premiered on September 11, 2009 at the 66th Venice International Film Festival and went on the film festival circuit. After it screened at the 2009 Toronto International Film Festival, The Weinstein Company picked it up for distribution in the United States and Germany. An initial limited run in the U.S. was planned for December 2009 to qualify it for the 82nd Academy Awards with a wider release planned for early 2010.[5]


Plot summary

Set in Los Angeles on November 30, 1962, a month after the Cuban missile crisis, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a middle-aged English college professor who has struggled to find meaning in his life since the car accident that killed his longtime partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), eight months earlier. Jim's family disapproved of his relationship with George and thus refused George permission to attend the funeral.

Throughout the single day depicted in the film, and narrated from his point of view, George dwells on his past, shown in flashbacks, and his seemingly empty future, as he prepares for his planned suicide that evening. He buys bullets for his revolver, empties his safety deposit box in the bank, prepares letters for some friends, and one with some money for his cleaning woman, and arranges his life insurance policy, other important things such as keys, and the clothes he wants to be dressed in by the undertaker neatly in sight. Everyday things and encounters become special for him, realizing that for each it is the last time, and he is extra nice to people, as he is secretly saying goodbye.

George makes an appointment to have dinner with his close female friend Charley (Julianne Moore). He gives a lecture, after which his student Kenny Potter (Nicholas Hoult) starts a conversation with him, and becomes fixated on him as a kindred spirit. Later George has an unexpected encounter with Spanish male prostitute Carlos (Jon Kortajarena), whom he pays while declining his services. After his dinner with Charley he encounters Kenny again in a bar. They go skinny dipping and then return to George's house and get very drunk. George passes out and wakes to find himself in bed, with Kenny on his couch. Kenny has discovered George's planned suicide and taken away the gun. George finds it but decides not to kill himself. Having made peace with his grief, George suffers a heart attack and dies.


66th Venice Film Festival, 10th day (11/09/2009).
Red carpet with Matthew Goode, Tom Ford, Julianne Moore, Colin Firth, Nicholas Hoult and Jon Kortajarena at 66th Venice Film Festival.


The film has received an overall positive reception from critics, with most reviews singling out Colin Firth's performance. It currently holds an 82% 'Fresh' Rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 89 reviews.[6] Metacritic has compiled an average score of 74 (Generally favorable reviews) from 21 critic reviews.[7]. Also film critic Michael Philips of the Chicago Tribune placed "A Single Man" at number 7 of his list of the best films of 2009.[citation needed]

Critics who loved the film include A. V. Club film critic Nathan Rabin, who gave the film an A- score, arguing that "A Single Man is a film of tremendous style wedded to real substance, and rooted in Firth’s affecting lead performance as a man trying to keep it together for one last day after his world has fallen apart."[8]


The film was nominated for the Golden Lion at the 66th Venice International Film Festival and Colin Firth was awarded the Coppa Volpi for Best Actor at the film festival for his performance in the film.[9] He has also received a BAFTA[10] for best actor. Firth has also received a Golden Globe Award for Best Actor in a Motion Picture Drama nomination, a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role nomination, as well as an Academy Award for Best Actor nomination. For her performance, Julianne Moore was nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress in Motion Picture. Abel Korzeniowski was also nominated for a Golden Globe Award for Best Original Score.

On January 14, 2010, the film was nominated for Outstanding Film - Wide Release at the 21st GLAAD Media Awards.[11]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "A Single Man (2009)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 1, 2010. 
  3. ^ Holson, Laura M. (December 2, 2009). "Tom Ford: Design Director". Retrieved December 3, 2009. 
  4. ^ Malkin, Marc (September 24, 2008). "Tom Ford Looking to Single Out Some Mad Men". E! Online. Retrieved December 2, 2009. 
  5. ^ Fleming, Michael; Swart, Sharon (September 14, 2009). "Weinsteins engage 'Single Man'". Variety. Retrieved December 3, 2009. 
  6. ^ "A Single Man". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved December 8, 2009. 
  7. ^ "A Single Man". Metacritic. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  8. ^ Rabin, Nathan (December 10, 2009). "A Single Man". A. V. Club.,36227/. Retrieved December 19, 2009. 
  9. ^ "66th Venice International Film Festival Official Awards". Retrieved September 12, 2009. 
  10. ^ "63rd British Academy Film Awards - Leading Actor".,949,BA.html#jump9. Retrieved February 21, 2010. 
  11. ^ "21st Annual GLAAD Media Awards - English Language Nominees". Retrieved January 14, 2010. 

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