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
New Yorkers Ben and George have been together nearly 40 years, when they marry during a joyous gathering of friends and relatives. Unfortunately, George works for a Catholic school, and he is quickly dismissed when news of his recent nuptials reaches the Church hierarchy. The aging couple can no longer afford their condo and, forced to sell, face difficulties finding a reasonable apartment. Thus, Ben and George separate temporarily to live with relatives, and the expected problems ensue.
"Love is Strange" has many things going for it, primarily in the performances of John Lithgow as Ben, Alfred Molina as George, and Marisa Tomei as Kate, the wife of Ben's nephew. Lithgow and Molina capture the familiarity and tenderness of a long-married couple, while the always-engaging Tomei is excellent as a writer, whose work is constantly interrupted by Uncle Ben's well-meaning, but intrusive conversation. Unfortunately, the shaggy-dog script by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias does not serve the talented cast well. The screenplay shuffles some significant events off screen and leaves enough threads dangling to weave a carpet. Random coincidence resolves one plot point, while others are just left unanswered. Sachs also directs, and his long takes seem self-consciously arty. The film appears to be ending several times before it actually does.
While the credits roll, question after question will rise in viewers' minds. After nearly 40 years together, why did George and Ben have no savings? George signed an agreement when he was hired and knew the consequences, why did he not keep his marriage quiet? Why was George so clueless about the costs of selling the condo? What was the big deal about moving to Poughkeepsie temporarily? Why was the friend, Honey, dismissed from a conversation with a sharp "you're not family?" Why did the relatives discuss the couple's living situation behind their backs and not openly with them? Perhaps an intended longer version was chopped down, although, at 94 minutes, "Love is Strange" is relatively short. Whatever the reason, the film is a botched opportunity that squanders some talented performers and an intriguing premise.
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