An Englishman teaching literature at a Los Angeles college, George (Colin Firth) has made a smooth transition from his old culture to a gaudy new one. But when his longtime lover dies in a car crash, George is bereft, alone and broken. He spends the day, which he hopes will be his last, with an old London friend (Julianne Moore, never more glam) and a student (Nicholas Hoult) who would like to be his next lover. In an imposing directorial debut, fashion designer Tom Ford brought tenderness, wisdom and a gorgeous Pacific palette to his adaptation of Christopher Isherwood's 1964 novel. Among the several excellent new films, including Up and The Lovely Bones, that focus on a survivor's grieving for a lost loved one, this is the most plangent. That's thanks largely to Firth's quietly magnificent embodiment of a frayed heart; he made that ache subtly, splendidly visible.