A few times in my life I’ve had moments of absolute clarity. When for a few brief seconds, the silence drowns out the noise and I can feel rather than think. And things seem so sharp and the world seems so fresh as though it had all just come into existence. I can never make these moments last. I cling to them but like everything they fade. I’ve lived my life on these moments. They pull me back to the present, and I realise that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.
A Single Man is a movie about a college literature professor who lost his love around a year ago. The movie starts with the beginning of the last day of the professor and progressing through each phase of the day, summarises his whole life.
Professor George, played by Colin Firth, hopes to get done with the day like every day but this time a bit differently, this time never to wake up again. He packs a revolver in his bag and suits up. His day is slow for he never rushes through moments. His neighbourhood, college and strangers make a big part of his life, fill colour in the seemingly perpetual darkness. Girls swoon over him, ladies see him a fine gentlemen, people see success in him.
How society overlooks the reality! Professor George though is a gentleman because he takes his responsibilities seriously and behaves amicably even when he wakes up with the feeling of just getting done with the day. George does not want the same conventional future for his students. “Look around you, Grant. Most of these students aspire nothing more than a corporate job and a desire to raise coke-drinking tv-watching children who as soon as they can speak start chanting tv jingles and smashing things with hammers.”
I wonder how differently beautiful his day would have been in the old days, days when his lover used to be by his side. I say different because his days are still beautiful, because awful things have their own kind of beauty. A man never ceases to learn, more so on his last day. The wheel of time goes on, history repeats itself and the professor finds a young boy, beautiful and cheerful and honest just like Jim (his dead boyfriend), in the same bar.
Julianne Moore plays Charlotte, a drunkard loner left by her husband after long years of marriage, aching for George’s love. Her and George’s relationship begins with a blue shiny bottle of gin and ends with it. They drink and talk and dance. She looks at her with hope and his mind is still flooded with images of old Jim. She refuses to leave for Paris because George is here. She refuses to live because George refuses to live with her. Stuck in time and memories, they both try to survive.
George is not the kind of man who kills himself. The night unfolds its magic and he finds hope in the same revolver, which Kenny has hid from him and kept by his side while he sleeps. After he learns George’s reason for living life in a cocoon, for being so lost all the time in a vast ocean, for his forehead injury, Kenny invites him to open up, by opening himself up before him. They go back to sleep but George succumbs to the long impending fateful heart attack. Just before he takes his last breath, he is kissed by the light of Jim and he accepts his life and death happily.
Because it happened the way it was meant to be.