Originally published on metropolis.co.jp on September 2010

©2009 Fade to Black Productions, Inc. All Rights Reserved

George (an Oscar-nominated Colin Firth in a career best) hasn’t enjoyed much of anything in his life since long-time partner Jim died in a car accident eight months ago, so today he has decided to blow his brains out. But he’s English, so it will have to be done in an orderly manner. He goes about his last day on this earth making arrangements, tying up loose ends and leaving notes, one actually specifying a Windsor knot for his funeral tie. But as the day progresses, he comes across unexpected flashes of warmth that disrupt his dour musings. Cinematically, these are signaled by a less-than-subtle shift from the film’s near monochrome to full Technicolor. You could call this an exercise in style over substance—it is, after all, the self-financed directorial debut of Tom Ford, who moonlights as a world-renowned fashion designer—but that wouldn’t be accurate. While there’s little plot to speak of in what is basically a character study, there’s substance there if you’re willing to see it. This meditation on love and loss is highly watchable and infuses a sad story with warmth and humor. And despite its subject matter, a downer it’s not.