Love Is Strange
Love Is Strange’s most meaningful moments are in the tiny revelations regarding the complicated relationship at its heart. The title is blunt, and a little heavy-handed, but you’re unlikely to get a more direct explanation of what the film is about. The peculiarities of love aren’t unduly sentimental, or overly far-fetched, but they are surprising, compelling and authentic. Love Is Strange is an uneven gem of a film.
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, an old but not elderly couple living in New York. Make no mistake, without Lithgow and Molina there is no film, as the pair have a natural chemistry that shines onscreen. Sadly, it’s underplayed from the moment they’re forced to stay with friends and family in separate locations, but it does make their time together even more remarkable.
The reasoning behind their relocation – the couple’s marriage gets George fired from his job at a Catholic school – is a little far-fetched. The Catholic church is famously regressive in its hiring policies, so it should’ve been of little surprise that the exchanging of nuptials between two men could have such an embarrassingly predictable outcome. Stranger things have happened, however, and the stolen moments between the couple are exceptional.
Elsewhere, top quality performances are less assured, not due to a lack of acting talent, but because of poorly developed characters. Alongside the story of Ben and George’s married but separated life is the emotional journey of Ben’s nephew’s family. It has its moments, but isn’t given the time or attention it deserves to flourish, resulting in the mixture of one-dimensional characters with more rounded ones.
There’s an optimistic tone to the proceedings, which allows even the more unhappy scenes to move beyond their inherent sadness without getting too caught up. It has it’s downsides however, so when the moments of conflict finally arrive they don’t always feel justified, as though we’ve missed some of the build up along the way.
There’s no moral to the story in Love Is Strange, but there is a statement of sorts: this is what gay marriage can be and it’s charming, heartfelt and imperfect, much like the film itself. If you’re looking for a love story that’s about more than just romance, you could do much worse than Love Is Strange.
Joe Manners Lewis
Love Is Strange is released nationwide on 13th February 2015.
Watch the trailer for Love Is Strange here: