With the upcoming same-sex marriage referendum in May fast approaching, there could not be a more perfectly timed release for Love Is Strange. Directed by Ira Sachs and starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, the film follows two men getting married after thirty-nine years of partnership. Films and television series about same-sex relationships are the hot topic of the moment, with this following the recent releases of Pride and Channel 4’s new television shows, Cucumber, Banana and Tofu.
However, Love Is Strange approaches the topic in a unique way, following the elderly same-sex couple of Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina) after they tie the knot. Their dream of happiness together is brought to a screeching halt, as George works in a Catholic school and is promptly fired when this new development in his relationship (which was never hidden) reaches the archdiocese. Out of work, George and Ben are forced to sell their apartment which they can no longer afford and seek help from friends. Ben moves in with his nephew Elliot (Darren Burrows), his novelist wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) and their son Joey (Charlie Tahan). George, meanwhile, moves into the apartment just below with same-sex couple Roberto (Manny Perez) and Ted (Cheyenne Jackson), both of whom are police officers. The film then follows Ben and George as they attempt to settle into their new environments without each other, and documents the testing time in the couple’s life.
Director: Ira Sachs
Starring: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina
Release Date: Out now
The two principle characters give wonderful performances, especially Lithgow, taking a daring turn as Ben, which is far from his previous work which includes Third Rock From The Sun and Interstellar. With the stellar performances of the two leads it is very unfortunate that the two rarely share screen time together. The film regularly switches from Elliot’s apartment to Roberto and Ted’s, and the only scenes where the two are together are when they visit the housing office, when George visits Ben at Elliot’s apartment and when they go to a bar near the end of the film. Needless to say, these are the best scenes of the film, with the natural chemistry between the two actors making the scenes enjoyable and humorous, and their relationship believable. The film strolls along pleasantly, mixing scenes of enjoyable conversation with beautiful shots of New York accompanied by a soft, mesmerising piano score. However, there are times when this pleasant stroll feels rushed, the situation of the film is resolved far too easily and in a less than believable manner and there are a lot of unanswered questions at the end.
There are numerous other relationships explored within the film other than Ben and George, and that’s what makes Love Is Strange so interesting. Rather than being a film purely engaged with homosexual and heterosexual relationships and the difference between the two, it concerns itself more so with human relationships, and how we interact with each other in this crazy modern world.
In A Nutshell: A well acted, if poorly directed, film focusing on love an human emotion and avoiding the trend of simplifying homosexuality as foreign concept.