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A Single Man

Release date: Dec. 11

Distrib: Weinstein Co.

Best known in the past for his supporting roles, Colin Firth gets a long-overdue moment in the spotlight with “A Single Man.”Achingly restrained as George, a 1960s gay college professor contemplating suicide after his lover’s untimely death, Firth won the actor prize at the Venice Film Festival, where the film was deemed a surprisingly auspicious debut for fashion-designer-turned-helmer Tom Ford.

Critics and specialty audiences are likely to be divided less by Firth’s performance than by Ford’s intoxicatingly flamboyant visuals, which partisans have likened to the lush hothouse style of Douglas Sirk and detractors have written off as perfume-commercial aesthetics (as it happens, they’re both right).

Julianne Moore’s supporting work as George’s confidante and erstwhile partner reveals the actress at her liveliest (and most sozzled) in some time, while Ford’s evocation of the ’60s — impeccable duds courtesy of Oscar-nominated costume designer Arianne Phillips — may be too ravishing for even naysayers to resist. Comparisons to “Mad Men,” with which “A Single Man” shares a production designer, Dan Bishop, won’t hurt.

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