A Single Man


Generally favorable reviews - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 35
  2. Negative: 1 out of 35

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Critic Reviews

  1. Some films aren't revelations, exactly, but they burrow so deeply into old truths about love and loss and the mess and thrill of life, they seem new anyway. A Single Man is one such film, one of the best of 2009
  2. A singularly enjoyable and moving film.
  3. Firth plays him as a man of his time who is also mournfully ahead of his time. He's addicted to his own broken heart. A Single Man may break yours as well.
  4. 91
    It’s a film of stunning beauty and deep underlying sadness, a self-financed labor of love filled with impossibly gorgeous, oft-unclothed men and dazzling eye candy.
  5. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    Tom Ford -- the Texas-born fashion designer who for a decade was the creative director at Gucci -- financed this first feature himself. The producer couldn't have hired a smarter director.
  6. 90
    Like the speck of sand that seeds a pearl, it’s the tiny fleck of kitsch at the heart of “A Single Man” that makes it luminous and treasurable, despite its imperfections.
  7. For the most part, Ford has done good by the film, infusing a sad story with warmth and humor to spare. While loss is what makes George's experience universal, heart is what gives him such life.
  8. Reviewed by: Bob Mondello
    An exquisite, almost sensual grief suffuses every frame of A Single Man.
  9. 89
    Everything fits perfectly, from titles to fin, but most of all Firth, who dons the role of George like a fine bespoke suit.
  10. 88
    The film belongs to Firth. Uncanny at showing the heart crumbling under George's elegant exterior, he gives the performance of his career.
  11. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    There’s a lot, in fact, that keeps this film from greatness. One performance alone recommends it. That’s enough.
  12. 88
    An exquisite character study in grief.
  13. 83
    Built around Firth’s fine work, A Single Man is a handsome film that, like its slender source novel, is stylish, quiet and sure.
  14. Reviewed by: David Ansen
    A Single Man's sleek surface may go against Isherwood's crisp, understated prose, yet the story's beating, wounded heart and its spiky intelligence still come through, personified in Firth's moving, eloquently internalized performance.
  15. The striking directorial debut from fashion designer Tom Ford -- is so unusually beautiful it would be easy to dismiss it as superficial.
  16. While A Single Man has its flaws, many of these fade in view of the performance and the power of Isherwood’s story.
  17. It relies on a singularly brilliant performance by Colin Firth to make it one of the year's more satisfying films.
  18. Reviewed by: Ian Freer
    It sounds like a downer but A Single Man is exciting, emotionally alive filmmaking, a potent cocktail of style and substance. And Firth thoroughly deserves the Oscar.
  19. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    Though the deliberate pace can feel slow to glacial at times, the visuals are gorgeous, and the melancholy mood is exquisitely evoked.
  20. It's hard to sell people on a movie about grief, but A Single Man deserves recognition for being about something real that usually goes unexplored: The grief from which there really can be no return.
  21. Then again, Colin Firth is enough. Every movie is a performance, but very seldom is a performance a movie.
  22. 75
    Truth be told, Firth's transcendent performance in A Single Man renders that stylistic gimmick utterly unnecessary -- Firth provides all the emotional color this movie needs, and then some.
  23. 75
    Firth plays George superbly, as a man who prepares a face to meet the faces that he meets.
  24. 75
    Despite its downbeat theme, A Single Man is ultimately optimistic about the human capability to gradually make peace with seemingly insurmountable pain and tragedy.
  25. 75
    How fitting that Firth should carry A Single Man, a movie of quiet but potent emotional power, perfectly suited to his singular gifts.
  26. In a movie of murky surfaces and deep loneliness, the redemptive surprise of A Single Man is how it becomes a clear endorsement of the Buddy System.
  27. 70
    The film is slowed by its own beauty, but it is salvaged by two majestic scenes.
  28. A romantic tale of love interrupted the isolation that is an inherent part of the human condition and ultimately the importance of the seemingly smaller moments in life.
  29. It’s a dirgelike odyssey sparked by Julianne Moore’s overheated turn as George’s best friend – a welcome respite from Firth’s clenched emoting.
  30. 63
    A Single Man tells us about love, isolation, and sorrow, but never makes us feel any of those things.
  31. A Single Man is like a big coffee table book on grief, loneliness, and loss - and mid-20th-century home design.
  32. 60
    It doesn't matter if the movie around Firth is a good one or a lousy one: Either way, I wouldn't be able to explain how an actor could come up with a performance as subtle, in both its heartbreak and its magnificence, as this one is.
  33. 50
    A Single Man, with one significant exception, gives us only a series of immaculate poses. The exception is Firth, who, in spite of Ford's best efforts to turn him, too, into another piece of movable scenery, manages to convey a real human soul stirring beneath George's petrified façade
  34. Christopher Isherwood’s seminal queer novel deserves a film adaptation that captures both its sense of place and its activist spirit. Cowriter-director Tom Ford settles for the glossy ephemera of a Vanity Fair cover spread.
User Score

Universal acclaim- based on 174 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 36 out of 45
  2. Negative: 4 out of 45
  1. GaleG.
    Dec 30, 2009
    All Colin Firth all the time. And, of course, he's perfect. Beautiful movie about living through a paralyzingly ugly part of life: loss.
  2. Oct 27, 2010
    Love, love, love it! If you are familiar with Wong Kar Wai and love 50s era cinema recreations, this is a film for you to watch. I celebrateLove, love, love it! If you are familiar with Wong Kar Wai and love 50s era cinema recreations, this is a film for you to watch. I celebrate Tom Ford has such a detailed and suave eye for moviemaking as he does for fashion. One truly expects his second film to have the consistency of this marvelous piece, the acting is superb and the overall feel is ... sheer delight. @cinemaquote Full Review »
  3. AnthonyK
    Feb 10, 2010
    Unfaithful shallow adaptation of an icon of 20th fiction portraying a sad, sullen gay pity party ending in death. Firth was magnificent, as Unfaithful shallow adaptation of an icon of 20th fiction portraying a sad, sullen gay pity party ending in death. Firth was magnificent, as well as the supporting cast, but Ford is not a screenwriter. Full Review »