love is strange

I can’t say enough good things about the deeply touching, resonant experience that is Love is Strange. This portrayal of the cycle of life and love with all of its confusion, emotions, and pain is far and away the best film I’ve seen so far at Sundance this year. With tear-jerking performances by John Lithgow and Alfred Molina and a stellar supporting cast, this film is for anyone looking for inspiration and bravery in matters of the heart.

The Players:

  • Director: Ira Sachs
  • Screenwriters: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias
  • Cinematographer: Christos Voudouris
  • Starring: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Darren Burrows, Charlie Tahan, Cheyenne Jackson

Sundance Synopsis:

Having finally wed after 39 years together, Ben and George find themselves split apart by financial problems after George loses his job at a Catholic school when news of their marriage comes out.  In order to stay in Manhattan, George moves in with two gay neighbors, while Ben moves in with his nephew and his family. The strain of being separated pushes their relationship and the relationships around them to the brink as they try to hold on to each other.

The Good:

  • The Love between Alfred Molina & John Lithgow: Their relationship is so affectionate and realistic, I was absolutely floored by their chemistry. It feels natural and honest, and it’s their connection which is at the heart of this film.  I was brought to tears by some of the moments they shared together. Their pain, their emotions, their deep desire to be together make this one of the most moving films I have ever seen at Sundance.
  • Marissa Tomei: Portraying a working woman with a family, who is trying to please everyone around her (oftentimes at her own expense), Tomei nails the part, which adds a complexity to the themes of love and friendship. Her journey examines the sometimes difficult experience of supporting a spouse and a son, showing compassion and loyalty to loved ones, and trying to remain honest about one’s needs.
  • The Music: The music featured in this film is predominantly Chopin, which fits the tone and beauty of the story perfectly. The Chopin interludes, which are frequent and can be on the long side, are too beautiful and enjoyable to grow impatient with, which is sometimes what happens for me when music plays a large role in a feature. But I love Chopin and it was the right choice for this film, so it never became an issue.
  • I Heart NY: This film is like Ira Sach’s love letter to Manhattan. The city plays a central role in the couple’s relationship. They love each other and they love their city – it’s so essential to who they are that they would rather squat in two different apartments than move to Poughkeepsie together.  To some, this might seem absurd, but I think for people who truly love the city in which they have built their lives, it makes perfect sense.

The Bad:

  • I think this film is so amazing that I don’t have anything negative to say about it.

Overall:

I highly recommend this film and wouldn’t be surprised if Molina and Lithgow win awards for their performances. I wanted to hug them for what they shared, and I left the theater feeling like I knew them both; that they were friends I cared about.  Love is Strange goes straight to the heart and is too good to miss. You can’t watch this film and not fall in love with it.

Rating: 9/10