You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

‘Single’ retains book’s political prowess

Firth achieves subtle, heart-breaking impact

A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel.

Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed of his longtime lover’s death via a perfunctory phone call from the police.

The voice on the other end (provided by Jon Hamm) lays out the scenario in matter-of-fact fashion — as one might discuss a casual acquaintance, rather than a spouse — and George is forced to respond in kind, with only the tiniest twitches in Firth’s countenance alerting us that his heart is breaking.

The final twist of the knife comes at the end of this exchange, when the caller mentions that the funeral will be “family only,” which despite their 16 years of partnership, means that George is not invited. With these two words, and without the slightest grandstanding, Ford dramatizes the essential inhumanity of any policy, whether legal or cultural, that would conspire to keep loved ones apart during times of greatest need.

More Film

  • Amanda Crew'Barry' TV show premiere, Arrivals,

    Amanda Crew, Robert Patrick Starring in Horror Movie 'Tone Deaf' (EXCLUSIVE)

    A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel. Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed […]

  • Chen Kaige Chinese director Chen Kaige

    China's Chen Kaige to Head Macao Festival Jury

    A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel. Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed […]

  • viacom logo

    International TV Growth, Paramount Gains Power Viacom Q2 Earnings

    A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel. Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed […]

  • Mia FarrowTime 100 Gala, Arrivals, New

    Mia Farrow Didn't Want Dylan Farrow to Talk About Woody Allen Sex Abuse Claims

    A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel. Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed […]

  • Melissa McCarthy The Kitchen

    Melissa McCarthy Snorts Ecstasy With Sex Crazed Puppets in 'Happytime Murders'

    A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel. Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed […]

  • It movie review

    'It: Chapter 2' Director Andy Muschietti Says 'Bring Your Adult Diapers'

    A landmark work of gay literature, Christopher Isherwood’s “A Single Man” was perhaps most radical in its understated treatment of progressive politics, and Tom Ford’s film adaptation retains that tone, even when diverging from the novel. Perhaps nowhere is this audacious subtlety more devastating than the brief scene in which Colin Firth’s George is informed […]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content