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Love Is Strange | reviews, news & interviews

Love Is Strange

Love Is Strange

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina have a true couple's chemistry

All hail love: Lithgow and Molina play a couple of 40 years who finally marry in 'Love Is Strange'

Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) are two lucky people. They work in New York City where Ben paints and George teaches music. After they marry, the church school where George works fires him for being openly gay. Their life has come apart with the loss of one income. The couple must sell their co-operative flat and live apart - Ben with Elliot, his nephew (a convincing Darren E Burrows) and George with a couple of groovy gay cops (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) one floor below their old flat. From there on, grumpus Ben looks on the dark side where George finds miracles in the least likely of places.

Far from being just a gay movie, Love Is Strange is at its strongest elements is balancing the banalities of life and its boredoms with the deeper senses of intimacy and love. The unity between Lithgow and Molina is generous and illuminating. When we see them as a couple, we almost forget they’re acting. When they try to find an affordable place to rent in the terrifyingly harsh New York housing market, we fear for them. Will this best-suited couple ever get back together?

Love is the painful mystery we all yearn for

There is a lot of doubt, and meanwhile waiting for their new life together to start marks a painful hiatus for the couple. Ben’s nephew’s wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) can’t write with him in the house and goes against him behind his back, telling her husband that he’s too nice to his own relative. Meanwhile, Kate and Elliot’s son Joey – a wonderful turn by newcomer Charlie Tahan – has a Russian friend Vlad (Eric Tabach) who brings further confusion to the homestead.

The script, by Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, is strangely structured – an early scene that is almost all backstory is one of its anomalies - yet despite some jarring moments, it blooms. All performances are strong even if Tomei is less sure of her character Kate, whose hamfisted dialogue strikes some false notes.

Pivoting on a loving couple growing older, not having finances in place, needing to rely on others to get by, Love Is Strange has universal poignancy. We all want the wonderful love story but few of us realize that great love brings pain and anguish amidst its swells. Love is strange, but only because it is the painful mystery we all yearn for and only a few of us are lucky enough to find.

The unity between Lithgow and Molina is generous and illuminating. As a couple, we almost forget they’re acting

rating

Editor Rating: 
3
Average: 3 (1 vote)

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