I had a big film day not long ago. I went to the cinema to see Tom Ford’s directorial debut, A Single Man, and then later that day watched the Swedish vampire horror, Let The Right One In. The last time I can think of when I enjoyed two films on first viewing, to such an extent, on the same day, was in 2004, when I went to the cinema twice in one day to see, The Girl Next Door and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. That is not to say that this film day was comparable in terms of quality or genre of film, nor is this the place to defend The Girl Next Door or wax lyrical about Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, there will be other time for that, but for sheer film-viewing pleasure, that day stands out in my memory, as much as this one will.

And so, the films in hand. I was flabbergasted by both of them. Simply put, A Single Man is beautiful. Not in a he’s-a-designer-it-should-look-nice sort of way, but in a truly special, considered way. The film tells the story of a grieving man, with such delicacy and care that it is immediately draws the viewer into George’s unbearable loneliness and desperation. It is difficult to describe the film in detail without committing cardinal spoiler sins, but the way Ford translates the scenery and cinematography into emotion and narrative is astonishing.

Colin Firth’s performance makes you wonder what he’s been playing at for the last few years. He is devastating in his role, as his grief manifests itself on his face, in his movement, and into every part of his character. Equally, the beautiful Julianne Moore is entrancing and unsettling as his manic best friend, Charley. Their relationship and intimacy feels authentic and adds depth to his interaction with other characters.

Tom Ford’s directing is considered, stylised and stunningly executed. He chose his stars well, both for their acting prowess and their ability to inhabit the beautifully crafted costumes Ford draped them in. It is, in short, a tour de force for Ford. He has approached it with the attention to detail and elegance that he imbues his collections with, and we can only hope that he will be bolstered by his success and create more beautiful films.

For those expecting Sex and the City-style fashion porn, turn around, go to the video shop and rent Devil Wears Prada. The clothes in this film serve as a beautiful contrast to the interior hurt and frayed nature of the characters, and Tom Ford is far too sensitive to use pretty clothes to paper over cracks in his narrative. That said, if you muted the film, it would still be wonderful in a completely different way, such is the beauty of the clothes. The stiff elegance of Colin Firth, the youthful contrivance of Nicholas Hoult, and the glamorous artificiality of Julianne Moore combine to make a breathtakingly lovely style.

So, in summation, watch it once and have your heart broken by the narrative, watch it again and be blinded by the way it looks, and then watch it again, just because.

Let the Right One In is a story for another day. Quite frankly it deserves its own post, I don’t know what I was thinking.

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