35Colin Firth’s performance in Tom Ford’s directorial debut A Single Man, based on the story by Christopher Isherwood, has already been nominated for a BAFTA. And rightfully so. Set in the US in 1962, Firth plays English college professor George Falconer, a man struggling to come to terms with the death of his long term lover Jim (Matthew Goode).

Distracted momentarily by old friend Charley (Julianne Moore) and curious student Kenny (Nicholas Hoult), he cannot ignore the profound sense of loss he feels and so resolves to do something about it. Here, Colin Firth talks about working with Tom Ford and life and politics in Sixties America.

Given its director, fashion designer Tom Ford, it’s perhaps not very surprising that A Single Man has turned out to be a visually stunning film, from costume and set design to the over all cinematography the film flows beautifully, its early Sixties setting perfect down to every minute detail. It is however also a brilliantly acted film, most notably Colin Firth’s quiet, reflective portrayal of a gay man who struggles to see sense in his own existence after his partner’s death.

Do you see A Single Man as a period movie, in its view of a gay man in society?

Colin Firth: “I don’t feel, frankly, that all that much has changed. Obviously it’s on a state by state basis in America but the whole business of gay rights are shifting there all the time. Interestingly, we were actually filming on the day when Proposition 8 was passed in California, which essentially rescinded gay marriage rights.  And this was the same day actually that Barack Obama won the election.”

There is a modern parallel in the climate of fear described in the story, fostered by the Cuban Missile Crisis, isn’t there?

Colin Firth: “Yes, there’s that theme of fear running through it which George [my character] talks to his students about. I think it’s very much alive today, it’s a marketing tool and a political tool. I think it’s how governments get things done. That’s what Naomi Klein talks about in The Shock Doctrine.

“If you frighten people enough to can get any legislation through, you can make them put with the Patriot Act, or Guantanamo or the invasion of a country that should be left alone. Or indeed giving up your civil liberties, or putting up CCTV cameras everywhere.  People are prepared to accept all that if they’re frightened.”

Could Isherwood’s story have been updated and put in a contemporary setting?

Colin Firth: “That’s a very difficult one to answer. I don’t think LA’s changed that much, really. This character happens to be gay, but although George is struggling with a lot he’s certainly not struggling with his sexuality. Isherwood’s characters don’t seem to. So I don’t know what it would have done to the film if you’d have set it in the present. You take the Cuban Missile Crisis out and put something else there, like the fear of terrorism, it’s actually rather an interesting question.

“I think there’s something about the characters of George and Charley that just feels right in 1962, there’s something about their whole cultural reference points that feel of that generation. But I think you could have updated it quite easily frankly. I just wouldn’t have looked as good.”

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One Response

  1. Angelina Machado

    thanks for posting! I had recently read an article in Elle magazine in reagard to Tom Fords film and I am so loooking forward to seeing it!
    Good day ladies!!