One of the reasons I wanted to see it is that Colin Firth received a Best Oscar nomination for his performance, and I know he's really talented. However, I was taken aback by this movie, since I knew very little about its premise.
Based on a novel written by Christopher Isherwood in 1964, it's about a closeted gay college professor, George, who loses Jim, his partner of 16 years, in a car crash along with their two dogs. It's not clear from the movie if they lived together, but the flashbacks make it look like they did. The time period is the early sixties. George is so devastated that he decides to kill himself, and the movie unfolds around that decision.
The first scene where George learns of the crash and that Jim's family won't let him to come to the funeral is exquisitely done, and in my opinion Colin Firth deserves the Oscar for that one scene alone. I of course went over to Rotten Tomatoes to see what "freshness" rating the movie received (86%), and I was pleased to find that most reviewers also raved about Firth's performance. I found a review that summed it up for me, written by Ian Freer on Empire Online (the link takes you to the full review):
Firth beautifully etches a man slowly detaching from his life. Perhaps the character’s biggest moment — receiving news of Jim’s death — starts with a clipped phone call and ends with a portrait of a man in bits, Firth making the transition without a false note. A model of economy and restraint, Firth starts addicted to his broken heart and ends a man capable of seeing the beauty in the world precisely because he has given up on it. He roots George, and therefore the rest of Ford’s beautiful film, in dignity.I have thought of the movie several times since I watched it, and especially the incredibly well crafted story of what it must have been like to be gay back then. Julianne Moore plays an old female friend, and she is also incredible in her role. The film was nominated for The Golden Lion award at the Venice International Film Festival, and Firth received an award for Best Actor at that festival. Firth also won a Golden Globe award for Best Actor, and Julianne Moore was nominated for Best Supporting Actress. It received other awards, all of which were well deserved, in my opinion.
It seems like it would be a real downer of a movie, but it wasn't. It portrayed so many aspects of life that we all must deal with: loss, grief, acceptance of self, friendships, and the many facets of love.