A Single Man

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(2009) ★★★★

BBC2: Sunday 7 June, 11pm

Englishman abroad Colin Firth has awoken each day in a haze of heartbreak since the death of his longtime companion Matthew Goode eight months ago. Unable to come to terms with his loss, college professor Firth spends a single day putting his affairs in order… This is Los Angeles in 1962, at the height of the Cuban missile crisis. A poignant drama of unusual sensitivity and remarkable restraint, it’s beautifully performed by Firth, a deserved winner at the Berlin film festival and at the Baftas for his subtle portrayal of desolation and isolation. Unsurprisingly, this being the directorial debut of fashion guru Tom Ford, it’s also an immaculate recreation of its Mad Men era – a time when homosexuality was illegal on both sides of the Atlantic. “Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty,” says Spanish hustler Jon Kortajarena, noting LA’s smoggy sky at dusk. The swirling music is by Abel Korzeniowksi and, against expectations, Tom Ford’s drama turned out to be more affecting than the Coen brothers’ A Serious Man.

Certificate: 12
Duration: 97min