After Ben and George get married, George is fired from his teaching post, forcing them to stay with friends separately while they sell their place and look for cheaper housing -- a situation that weighs heavily on all involved.
After nearly four decades together, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) finally tie the knot in an idyllic wedding ceremony in lower Manhattan. But when George loses his job soon after, the couple must sell their apartment and - victims of the relentless New York City real estate market - temporarily live apart until they can find an affordable new home. While George moves in with two cops (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) who live down stairs, Ben lands in Brooklyn with his nephew (Darren Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei), and their temperamental teenage son (Charlie Tahan), with whom Ben shares a bunk bed. While struggling with the pain of separation, Ben and George are further challenged by the intergenerational tensions and capricious family dynamics of their new living arrangements.Written by
Sony Pictures Classics
Love may be strange, but gay people are just like the rest of us
LOVE IS STRANGE is an interesting film, and one that will probably turn off a lot of viewers once they know what the concept is, but I thought it was a sweet portrayal of an aging couple who just happen to be gay. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow play Ben and George, a recently married couple who have been partners for 39 years. However, once Ben's employer finds out about his marriage (he is the music teacher at a Catholic school), he loses his job and the couple are forced to sell their apartment because they can't afford it anymore. In the meantime while they look for a new apartment, they have to live separately with family and friends. And therein lies the trouble: they haven't been apart in all those years of living together, and the film explores how it affects them emotionally as well as the people they stay with.
While watching this I tried to keep the title at the front of my mind at all times, but I still don't know quite how it might strictly apply. The closest thing I can come up with is George's nephew's family, who George ends up staying with. On the one hand, you have this aging couple who haven't been apart a day in their lives together who are now forced to be apart through circumstance; but then you have George's nephew and his wife who live in the same house with their son, and yet each of them feels separated from the other by the way they live their lives. George's nephew is a film producer who has long days away from home, while his wife (played by Marisa Tomei) is a writer who spends most of her time at home trying to write. And on top of that, their son keeps to himself a lot and spends most of his time with Vlad, his only friend at school. The general sense, or message, I got from the film is that it takes losing something to appreciate its true value.
Still, whatever it was all supposed to add up to I thought that the performances were excellent. I haven't seen John Lithgow and Alfred Molina this good in years, and they were very believable as a couple who had been together for so long. Marisa Tomei also did great work as George's nephew's wife. I should also mention the soundtrack composed mostly of Chopin, which I really loved. My favorite piece was the "Raindrop" prelude which plays a few times during the film, and my favorite use of it was during a private piano lesson that Ben gives to one of his students. I also appreciated the nods to Ben's religious faith, which never came into conflict with his personal life. Last, but not least, the cinematography and cityscape shots were extremely beautiful.
Still, there is one thing which lessens the film's impact in my opinion, and it has to do with the film's ending (of which I won't spoil the details). All I will say is that it feels more like an epilogue in the sense that there is a time jump (and something else) which came completely out of nowhere. It almost felt like they weren't quite sure how to wrap up the film, so they jumped ahead in an effort to give the story some closure. I didn't hate the ending, but I felt that maybe a different ending would have been just as good, possibly better. Still, I liked the film overall. It was a sweet indie drama that felt like a slice of life. On a side note, it kind of makes me never want to live in New York.
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