A Single Man highlights the importance of truly enjoying and experiencing the little moments in life. Throughout the film, the main character, George, begins to come alive again, despite the fact that he has to go through life without his love, Jim. Moments like kissing a stranger’s dog on the head, or smoking with Carlos, a young man from Spain, awaken George, heightening his emotions and presence in the world. Time slows down in these encounters; George is truly in the moment, experiencing all that those few seconds can offer. While these experiences can be nostalgic for George, life is in color again. Looking at Carlos’s lips reminds George of Jim’s lips, and kissing the young woman’s dog in the parking lot brings up memories of his own dogs. The film meshes the past with the present, and even though these encounters are painful and sentimental, George is still alive and has to let life take it’s course. These scenes show George connecting with others, whether it be with students, strangers, dogs, old friends, etc.
The film is full of little gems of truth that everyone can relate to. When Carlos and George are enjoying a cigarette together, looking out at the Los Angeles smog, Carlos says, “Sometimes awful things have their own kind of beauty.” This mindset takes the heaviness and darkness out of life, allowing the positive aspects of a negative situation to shine through. It is difficult for George to have a concept about death that isn’t depressing and hopeless, but there is a beauty, a lesson, and an acceptance that he experiences from Jim’s death. When he runs into the freezing water with a young handsome man, Kenny, or dances freely with Charley, he isn’t putting on a face, behavior, or manner that society expects from him. He is just George, a man who is trying to get through life and all the troubles and pain that are attached to it. He ends the film with the words, “I realize that everything is exactly the way it was meant to be.” He has finally accepted that what is meant to be will be. He will die when he is supposed to; it’s not in his hands. He comes to terms with what has happened in his life and is grateful for the small gifts in life, like truly connecting with others, and appreciating the simple things. Those are the times in life when George feels like he is completely immersed in life, not merely a shadow getting by day to day. Life isn’t full of continuous understanding and happiness, it comes and goes, but when those moments of completeness are present, they are gifts that have to be held onto.