Colin Firth shines in this as a buttoned-down English professor trying to maintain a veneer of composure whilst slowly losing his battle against an immense heartbreak. Firth is always brilliant in this type of role, the loveably stiff Englishman wrestling with his emotions, and this extremely gentle, on-the-verge-of-giving-up incarnation is no exception.
And it's lucky having someone the calibre of the Firth as the lead, because a lesser actor would have been totally outshone by the sets and costumes. Every single scene in this is manicured to such a fetishistic degree that it feels like you're watching a moving GQ editorial rather than something actually set in the 1960's. And while at the start I found this very distracting (where you're hoping to see more of the house than the characters), eventually it lent the film an oddly surreal quality that wasn't wholly objectionable. In fact, I'll go one better and give Tom Ford the benefit of the doubt by saying it was probably (hopefully) done on purpose, to underscore the perfect veneer the main character is trying so hard to maintain. (The alternative being that Tom Ford just totally overdressed his movie and Colin Firth just managed to save his ass by being such a guru).
Either way, a beautiful film to watch, whether you're watching Colin Firth or a collection of great houses, suits, cars, chairs, lamps, shoes... Recommended.