This film took me by surprise. Being that this was Tom Ford's directorial debut, I didn't know what sort of expectations, if any, I should have had. That speculation was a profound waste of time. I like a great many movies but I love only a handful and this one falls squarely in the center of the latter category. I found it a profoundly lyrical and human exploration of the weight of loss, of the way we try to continue with a life that is now seemingly foreign because it is so jarringly incomplete; a study in reflective motion - the stranger in the mirror that shadows us. We witness how from the moment he wakes, George struggles to just exist in the most normal sense rather than live in the more extraordinary one. As he states early in the film "You see, my heart has been broken." However, we not only see it, we come to feel it. We are wholly sympathetic to him because, in many ways, he's all of us. Just like his loss, George's pain is universal and through that hole in his soul, we enter and come to know him. Colin Firth's performance is superb; a walking testament to weary resignation and automatic reflex. He operates by rote and instinct, struggling to reach the end of every minute of his day. The clocks in his world move ever so slowly and the monotone tick of the seconds hand reminds him just how much more of the day still looms darkly before him. Firth walks that very tricky tightrope with a character that can very easily become the embodiment of all that is maudlin while simultaneously failing to elicit even an ounce of compassion from the viewer. Caricature is one misstep away but he doesn't come anywhere near that pitfall. George is a sad creature, no doubt, but he's not pathetic; a dignified streak runs prominently through him. To those outside his reality, he's the same George they've always known and he dutifully embraces the charade. As his longtime friend, Charlotte (Charley), Julianne Moore delivers with her customary and unerring brilliance. Donning a first rate English accent and a sense of frustration for her ill-conceived affection for George, she struggles alongside her friend to hold on to a world that is slowly leaving her behind. Nicholas Hoult is a revelation as Kenny Potter, George's student; a young man whose own sense of isolation draws him to George and his detached and well thought out approach to life and human interaction. In him he finds a kindred spirit. As Jim, George's partner of 16 years whom we get to know almost exclusively through flashbacks, Matthew Goode offers an honest portrayal of someone whose capacity to love and be loved forever transfigured those around him. Now let us move onto Tom Ford. Where has this man been hiding all these years? He was born to direct. His unfailing attention to detail, his ability to frame a scene is fluid and innate. People go to film school for years for one third of what obviously comes naturally to him. From the first scene to the last, the film pulsates with a lyrical quality that renders it a true work of art and not just another movie. He has certainly set the bar very high for himself. Directorial debuts such as these, are rare indeed. We're not talking Redford in Ordinary People because for more than 20 years he stood in front of the camera. Ford's screenplay adapted from a source that many considered unfilmable is yet one more achievement. The art direction is another major player in the film and it is spectacular, indeed. Both interiors and exteriors brim with authenticity and impeccable taste. The same is true of the music score by Abel Korzeniowski and Shigeru Umebayashi. Though somewhat minimalist in nature it was far warmer and more melodic with just the right amount of melancholy underpinnings. Why this film wasn't showered with Oscar nominations I'll never understand because it more than deserves them. To say that I loved it, is an understatement. A Single Man is, without question, a true work of art.