A Single Man

  • Directors: Tom Ford
  • Producers: Tom Ford, Andrew Miano, Robert Salerno, Chris Weitz
  • Writers: Tom Ford, David Scearce, Christopher Isherwood title A Single Man Book
  • Genres: Drama
  • Actors: Colin Firth, Julianne Moore, Matthew Goode, Ginnifer Goodwin, Nicholas Hoult

Set in Los Angeles on November 30, 1962, a month after the Cuban missile crisis, A Single Man is the story of George Falconer (Colin Firth), a middle-aged English college professor who has struggled to find meaning in his life since the car accident that killed his longtime partner, Jim (Matthew Goode), eight months earlier. Jim’s family disapproved of his relationship with George and thus refused George permission to attend the funeral.

Throughout the single day depicted in the film, and narrated from his point of view, George dwells on his past, shown in flashbacks, and his seemingly empty future, as he prepares for his planned suicide that evening. He buys bullets for his revolver, empties his safety deposit box in the bank, prepares letters for some friends, and one with some money for his cleaning woman, and arranges his life insurance policy, other important things such as keys, and the clothes he wants to be dressed in by the undertaker neatly in sight. Everyday things and encounters become special for him, realizing that for each it is the last time, and he is extra nice to people, as he is secretly saying goodbye.

George makes an appointment to have dinner with his close female friend Charley (Julianne Moore). He gives a lecture, after which his student Kenny Potter (Nicholas Hoult) starts a conversation with him, and becomes fixated on him as a kindred spirit. Later George has an unexpected encounter with Spanish male prostitute Carlos (Jon Kortajarena), whom he pays while declining his services. After his dinner with Charley he encounters Kenny again in a bar. They go skinny dipping and then return to George’s house and get very drunk. George passes out and wakes to find himself in bed, with Kenny on his couch. Kenny has discovered George’s planned suicide and taken away the gun. George finds it but decides not to kill himself. Having made peace with his grief, George suffers a heart attack and dies.

21 Grams

  • Directors:
  • Producers: Robert Salerno
  • Writers: Guillermo Arriaga
  • Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
  • Actors: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts, Benicio del Toro, Melissa Leo, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Danny Huston

The story is told in a non-linear manner. The following is a linear, chronological summary of the plot:

Jack Jordan is a former convict who is using his new-found religious faith to recover from drug addiction and alcoholism. Paul Rivers is a mathematics professor with a fatal heart condition. Unless he receives a new heart from an organ donor, he will have less than one month to live. Paul’s wife wants him to donate his sperm so she can have his baby, even if he dies. The two are civil to one another, yet distant. Cristina Peck is also a recovering drug addict, and now lives a normal suburban life with a supportive husband and two children. She is a loving mother and active swimmer, who has left her days of drugs and booze behind. These three separate stories/characters become tied together one evening when Jack kills Cristina’s husband and children in a hit-and-run accident. Her husband’s heart is donated to Paul, who begins his recovery.

Cristina is devastated by the loss and returns to drugs (2C-B and ketamine) and alcohol. Paul is eager to begin normal life again, but he hesitantly agrees to his wife’s idea of surgery and artificial insemination as a last-ditch effort to get pregnant. During consultations with a doctor before the surgery, Paul learns that his wife had undergone an abortion after they had separated in the past. Angered, Paul ends the relationship. He becomes very inquisitive about whose heart he has. He learns from a private detective that the heart belonged to Cristina’s husband, and begins to follow the widowed Cristina around town.

Jack and Cristina rush Paul to the hospital. Jack tells the police that he shot Paul, but he is released. The conflict between Cristina and Jack remains unresolved (they meet in the waiting room after Paul’s death, but do not speak). Cristina learns in the hospital that she is pregnant. After Paul’s death, Cristina is seen tentatively preparing for the new child and Jack is shown returning home to his family.