Was overall ok, engaging. Crazy awesome 60s style--the same design team from Mad Men handled this production--and Tom Ford's creative use of selective color saturation for emphasis was definitely effective, but I didn't quite buy the plot.
It takes place during a day in the life of a gay English professor (Colin Firth) in 1962, several months after his partner of 16 years was killed in a car accident. The stoic prof has been dealing with profound grief, and has decided to commit suicide after finishing his day's work. His preparation is meticulous, having laid out the suit he'd like to be buried in, several notes and documents on his desk at home, rehearsing the manner in which he intends to shoot himself, etc. Throughout the day he takes time to reflect on isolated moments and remembering time with his departed lover. All this, I bought.
Several times during the day, he runs into a student who seems intent on getting to know him better; the prof gradually opens up to his unexpected offer of friendship, eventually having some drinks and a skinny-dip session with the youth, after which the two end up at the prof's house, but stop short of intimacy. The prof passes out, wakes up awhile later to discover the student fell asleep on his couch after having taken his gun. Prof places the gun in a drawer, reflects for several moments on how he has accepted his grief and can now move on, then ... has a heart attack and dies.
None of this I bought. First, the kid didn't seem genuine, and I couldn't shake the feeling he was setting the prof up. Second, I couldn't swallow that the prof's grief lapsed so suddenly, or that it did because of an unexpected connection with a random person. Third, the irony (if it was irony) of suffering a fatal heart attack seconds after coming to terms with months of pain and misery, was just lost, and came off almost silly. Firth's expression even seemed to express "oh COME ON!" as he clutched his chest and fell to the floor.
Maybe the book communicates it better, I'm not sure. Firth got an Oscar nom and several other accolades for this, so it must have been believable to some. I missed it. Incredibly pretty film, though.