Love Is Strange (2014) Poster

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8/10
Heartfelt story of human interaction
rubenm25 November 2014
There is only one thing I didn't like about this film: the title. It's so bland. And it doesn't even have anything to do with what this film is about. It's not about a strange love affair, but about a very normal one.

Apart from that, I liked everything about 'Love is Strange'. It is a film about how people live, love, talk, help each other out, appreciate each other and sometimes work on each other's nerves. Maybe that doesn't sound too exciting, but it's enough to keep on watching, and be moved by what you see.

The film tells the story of an older couple, who are forced to leave their Manhattan apartment after one of them is fired from his teaching position. They temporarily move in with relatives and neighbours, until they have found a new place of their own. The film shows the interaction between civilized and polite people who are all perfectly willing to help each other, but nevertheless are increasingly annoyed by the uneasy situations caused by the arrangement.

Some scenes are funny in an understated way, and make you softly chuckle in your seat. Others are emotional, but never melodramatic. I think the word that best describes the general mood of the picture is 'heartfelt'. The director does a perfect job in balancing the emotions. Some scenes are very elongated and show little action, which gives an intense effect in combination with the wonderful and very prominent soundtrack consisting of piano pieces by Chopin. The music has a special meaning, because it is the music that one of the lead characters teaches his piano pupils.

The couple is gay, but that doesn't really matter. The film could just as well have been about a straight couple, with some minor script changes. But the couple fits in perfectly in the liberal, open minded, intellectual New York circles where the movie is set. (The sort of people who think it's almost impossible to survive in Poughkeepsie when you're used to Manhattan). In fact, those are exactly the same circles Woody Allen prefers for his films, and sometimes 'Love is Strange' reminded me of Allen's best films, like 'Blue Jasmine', minus the usual neurotic behaviour by the lead characters.
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5/10
Could have been so much better...
kevin54-129 September 2014
My partner and I were really looking forward to this movie - a story about a loving mature gay couple dealing with some harsh realities, played by some wonderful actors. While I found the acting to be generally good, the writing and direction were uneven and confusing. First the good: the two leads are wonderful and understated playing the gay couple who've been together for 39 years, now facing the realities of being temporarily homeless, and separated from each other. Now the bad: the whole premise of the movie, that this couple found it necessary to each find separate temporary living arrangements while trying to find a new apartment, stretched all credibility. I found this unbelievable, especially when they had the option to live together with a relative outside the city. For some reason, they felt it imperative to live separately in the city even though neither was now employed. The whole movie seems so contrived that it seems the writers chose almost any situation to advance the film so that it got to the ending that they had written, whether it made sense or not. The idea of two late 60s/early 70s men with no apparent savings/pension/income to be able to maintain their condo for at least a little while also stretched credibility - instead they selfishly share their predicament with relatives and friends and crash separately with them. The writers/director have created a story with so many holes and illogical story paths that I found myself annoyed and angry with the characters. John Lithgow's character seems oblivious to the fact that he is becoming an imposition to his nephew's family, especially to his nephew's young 15 year old son with whom he is sharing bunk beds. While I hardly expect everything in a movie to be sewn up neatly by the end, the writers introduced characters and story lines that the viewer was lead to believe mattered- but were dropped and never resolved. Who was the young boy's friend Vlad? What was behind the tension between the nephew and his wife? Why did Vlad and the young boy steal French lit books? What's up with the disco/party cops? Why the extended sob scene of the boy in the stairwell at the end? Has the movie become about him? A considerable time is spent on each of these items in the movie and yet there are no answers, and they don't seem relevant to what the story should have been about. A different director, one who was not also the writer, might have helped make this a better movie. I also couldn't help but think that this was a 2 hour movie that was cut to 90 minutes and the answers were left on the floor somewhere.
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10/10
A film about gay love and marriage in NYC and the complications affecting many lives that ensue after the wedding.
graupepillard26 April 2014
LOVE IS STRANGE, a film, unaffectedly directed by Ira Sachs, is so natural and unassuming in its portrayal of relationships that the divide between audience and the characters on the screen disappears; we are directly slipping into their lives with the ease of familiarity. There is a formal beauty to the movie, thanks to the cinematography of Christos Voudouris - the way he captures each space - delineated not only through décor, but through the light which mutates with the atmosphere, very much like a Chardin still-life painting, classic in its grandeur and silence.

The plot revolves around two gay men who have lived together for 39 years and finally get married, a decision that will alter their lives in ways that are unexpected and transforming. We first meet Ben, a seventy-one year old artist, (John Lithgow in a breathtaking performance) and his partner George (Alfred Molina in an equally fine portrayal,) a music teacher in a Catholic school - both excitedly, and nervously preparing for the ceremony and the post- wedding party. From the moment we first view Lithgow and Molina singing a duet together - their voices and theatrics in synch and at odds - tender intimacy is apparent. Ira Sachs and co-writer Mauricio Zacharias have created two remarkably gentle and loving individuals, their intimacy and enduring connection, is both understated and powerfully passionate.

The consequences of ultimately legitimizing their union bear witness to the harsh realities that accompany that choice. Soon after the nuptials, George gets fired from his job, and the economic demands of existing in NYC, forced to sell the apartment in order to find more affordable housing, interrupts their former cadence of living. Having no alternative, George and Ben, temporarily separate to move in with friends and relatives till they can find a home of their own. Molina and Lithgow stunningly convey the anguish of living apart and the intense longing of being united again. It is as if one person is sliced in half – going through the motions, but not fully functioning without the other.

LOVE IS STRANGE also references the mysterious corridor of generational diversity - both fractious and enriching. The anxious, rebellious teenager slowly embracing life's uncertainties embodied by Joey, Ben's great-nephew in an excellent performance by Charlie Tahan who is likable, secretive and obnoxious – an eternal artifact of an adolescent's growing awareness of life's promises and aching discomforts. And approaching mid-life, are his parents - Kate (Marisa Tomei - a natural wonder) - a writer trying to meet the demands of motherhood and still do her own work and Elliot (Darren E. Burrows) a father too wrapped up in doing business (supporting the family?) to notice the splintering family dynamic. Tomei's facial expressions convey a woman's inner tug-of-war between being a caregiver and accomplishing her own ambitions, shifting from haggardly frustrated to a luminous empathy, particularly for the growing pains of her son on the cusp of adulthood.

Director Ira Sachs has given us a tone poem to the beauty, delight and fragility of living in a city - New York - dynamic, diverse and constantly changing, echoing the vicissitudes of life as we stumble through our own personal unfolding. A love story that has depth and endurance - delicate and supple, both romantic and mundane, LOVE IS STRANGE is wrenchingly lovely and generous, but also a reminder that nothing is permanent.
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2/10
Slow and melancholic with no real storyline
jimjimstrong15 March 2015
Warning: Spoilers
A disappointment. It seemed the movie was made to self-serve the director's own agenda. I'm not saying the questions of gay marriage and its associated life difficulties are not of social importance - in fact, quite the opposite - but presenting it in such a trivial and obvious manner bordering boredom is useless. A storyline of ordinary lives evolving around other ordinary lives all immersed in ordinary circumstances - what new did the movie tell us? Nothing, really. The "strange" love story is indeed a very common denominator nowadays. There are gays, there is love, there are difficulties associated with economic, financial and social status - we all know that. Semi-random scenes put together to make a semi-random story lacking fluidity but being generous to slowness is what we actually see. If you want to make a point, make it in a beautiful, artistic way that will leave viewers with internal satisfaction or mental stimulation or visual inspiration. Rather, we see a movie that wants to scream "Look, life is hard for us gay people, we are misunderstood, we are victims!" and everything artificially revolves around and is build upon such an attention-seeking statement. The involvement of other characters to justify social diversity and ubiquitousness of personal feelings expressed in different age stages of life cannot hide the foundational personal agenda of victimization. Obviously, old men in love is a powerful and touching subject that attracts empathy, but there is no need to use it as tool in your own belt to overcome your own insecurities and promote cliché life stories. Because that's how it felt like from the beginning until the end of the movie.

Actors did a good job. In fact, this was the only good thing in the movie. Such a waste of their talent. Elongated, mundane scenes tried to provoke some kind of emotions, but were rather completely detached in terms of coherency. I'd ask many of the supporting actors - do you know what the purpose of your character in the movie was?

This could have been an orders of magnitude better movie. Basically, if you have heard what Mr Wonderful from Sharks Tank used to say - "Life is hard, and then you die" - then you know pretty much everything about this movie. The only remaining question is "Why?". Unfortunately, the movie does not attempt to answer it.
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4/10
Should have been....
ron-fernandez-pittsburgh18 January 2015
LOVE IS STRANGE should have been better than it is. Interesting story and premise, but something was left out. Don't know if scenes were cut out or maybe never even filmed, but it's quite disappointing and it could have been so good. Acting is above par for the most part, especially Marisa Tomei. Two two lead actors couldn't have been better, but they weren't given much to work with. Fair cinematography and editing and the music score score was a nice touch and fit well with the Malina Character, him being a music instructor. What doesn't ring true is that they had to separate by living in different places. Very phone in that respect. The two gay cops were not necessary and their parties they threw were more for college co-eds than grown adults. Did not make sense. More annoying was the accent on the nephew. The whole ending centered around him which was ludicrous. A very serious mistake was when the nephew was waiting for Ben to come home. He's waiting in front of the apartment with nothing but his skateboard in hand. Once they get into the apartment and talk for a few minutes, the nephew hands him a large paper painting!! How in the hell did the painting get into the apartment as the kid only had his skateboard. Didn't the writers, director, the camera people, the crew or even the actors question this huge mistake?? Then again, the boy leaves and the camera stays on him a good couple of minutes as he cries!! Fair first act and very poor second act and ending.
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4/10
Journey not worth the destination
Brdwaybuff31 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I was very excited to see this film. The idea of a mature gay couple finally able to get married and then that act causing one of them to lose his job is an all too common occurrence, especially for those employed in religious education. As the movie began and the film got going, I was very intrigued, particularly when they lost their apartment and were forced, by their desire to stay in Manhattan, to live apart with friends/family. However, that's when the movie started to go awry. We were introduced to several minor characters who never get fully developed. Some disappear altogether(Harriet Harris), some virtually disappear (Christina Kirk), some lack all sense of development (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez), and then there is the family unit of Marissa Tomei and her husband, and their son and his friend Vlad. I am realistic enough to understand that not everything in life gets tied up neatly in a little bow, but this film left too many questions unanswered. The parents had a clear rift in their relationship that implied infidelity on the part of the husband, yet we never discovered if that was true or what happened to them. There was clearly something between their son and Vlad whether it be sexual, drug related, etc. Again, that is never resolved for us, in spite of a very confusing situation concerning stolen books that made me think we were building to some kind of climactic resolution...and then nothing. Knowing that the writer also directed the piece, this is a prime example of why that is often a bad idea. Maybe another director could have gotten a little more perspective and distance and kept this film from being as A.D.D. as it felt to me, especially the ending, which felt very abrupt as if they ran out of time and had to quickly shoot the final two scenes. All in all, fine performances by the lead actors, and the framework of a film that, in other hands, might have been a much more moving and successful piece. (Final thought, no movie needs a three minute single shot of a kid crying in a stairwell. There is moving and then there is emotional masturbation. This is the latter.)
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5/10
Slightly moist, not in a good way
paultreloar7523 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Love is Strange wouldn't usually be the kind of movie that I would go and see, to be honest with you. I'd like to think I have my romantic moments but too much schmaltz isn't for me. However, liking Alfred Molina and being persuaded by a Kermode review, I decided to chance it. Hmm, sometimes one needs to go with your first instincts I discovered.

The initial set-up felt slightly rushed, with little chance to do anything than discover our heroes have been married, as a result of that marriage they are now in financial straits due to prejudice and then they take the slightly odd decision to sell up and move out (temporarily). OK so, it's the movies, let that slide and let's get into the meat of the film I think to myself. And initially, I'm starting to be persuaded that I'm glad that I've done so. Molina and Lithgow give sterling performances as the leads and they do start to create some moments of genuine emotion.

However, the set-up problems then return and the supporting casts, for me, never really get their teeth into things. It ebbs to the point whereby you're almost crying for something to happen that isn't either immediately apparent or obviously predictable. We fall into arty shots of NY skylines and streets and redbricks and yadda yadda, I didn't really feel much of an emotional connection with the characters as I never felt they were allowed to grow, and I wasn't really sure where we were headed.

The last half an hour was quite frankly meandering, with plot devices going off all over the shop and managing to pull off a main character departure without troubling my tissues. Which felt strange. Sorry, but this really didn't do it for me, and given the tenderness between George and Ben when the former has walked through the rain to hug his husband also feels slightly unforgiving. I wanted to enjoy this but it just didn't hit the mark for me I'm afraid.
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5/10
Love is strange... and so is this movie
allexand2 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
"Love Is Strange" is a modestly budgeted character-driven film that gets off to a promising start with a believable premise, strong writing (though a bit slow at times), and solid performances from its leads, John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, and Marisa Tomei. However, about halfway through the film, things begin to unravel.

Lithgow and Molina really sell the material and as a result you can truly buy them as a loving couple for close to forty years. They have decent chemistry together and they don't seem uncomfortable in scenes that call for them to show affection. As the plot kicks in and they must live apart temporarily, you can really feel how much they miss each other and how miserable they are as they try to make the best of things.

The plot is simple yet effective. Just married longtime lovers Ben(Lithgow) and George(Molina) hit a speed bump in their wedded bliss when George gets fired from his job. As a result, they can no longer afford their Manhattan apartment and must go live with relatives and friends until they can sell off the place or until George finds another job. Both of them have trouble adjusting as Ben lives with a nephew who has his own family and finds him a burden and George must endure living with two young gay male friends who like to party a little too hard for his tastes. Both are obviously unhappy in their living situations but too polite to speak up due to desperation.

It is very refreshing to see a story about Manhattanites who don't have bottomless bank accounts and an endless supply of designer clothes with which to frequent the latest trendy club to sip martinis and gossip about sex. When George loses his job, he doesn't instantly find another one. Their apartment turns a meager profit and they have to consider public assistance. Their friends and relatives live modestly. To that I say bravo movie.

However, this bit of realism eventually undermines audience sympathy for the leads due to some questionable writing. Ben is retired yet George is the only one stated to be looking for work. Their friends chastise them for a lavish honeymoon, and given what happens, it's hard not to take their side. A relative who has an actual house but lives two hours away is dismissed because neither George nor Ben knows how to drive but yet won't learn. George and Ben don't appear to have any money saved up. George loses his job because he flaunts his marriage to the point that his clergymen employers find out. Ben seems comically oblivious, babbling endlessly while his frustrated niece-in-law tries to work. Those things make them seem a bit irresponsible and selfish and I doubt that was the writer's intention.

Believe it or not this movie has more unresolved subplots than "The Room." The only ones to get resolution are the apartment hunt and a hasty revelation about Joey, Ben's great-nephew, being in love with a girl he met on a vacation once. The nephew is absent yet his family never seems to wonder where he is. He and his wife agree to confront Ben but never do. Ben goes to the hospital after a nasty fall and the doctor hints at a more serious health problem that's never revealed. An entire character disappears after the first fifteen minutes after being shot down during an argument about who will host Ben and George. Ben even DIES offscreen.

The worst of these is a nonsensical subplot involving Joey getting in trouble with a vaguely Eastern European classmate for stealing… French literature? Joey maintains his innocence, his parents express doubt, and we never find out what really happened. Considering modern teens read stuff like Twilight, I can't believe any teenage boy would risk expulsion for a copy of Cyrano de Bergerac.

In fact, the whole character of Vlad, the classmate, is a big problem with this film. Aside from being pretentious and impossibly tan and attractive, he has a unsettling amount of sexual tension with both Joey and Ben. Ben paints Vlad and Joey spends lots of time with him in his bedroom "studying" and reacts badly to him becoming Ben's new muse. Joey denies being gay when Ben asks about his love life and the story he tells about loving a girl from afar on vacation comes across as a lousy cover. Ben even asking seems to unknowingly imply that he knows Joey is attracted to Vlad. George gets some tension too when he encounters a man at one of his friends' parties who appears to be his soulmate. The subtext is too powerful to ignore, intentional or not.

Once Ben dies, everything falls apart as the movie struggles to come up with a satisfying end. George gets an apartment and Joey visits expressing regret about being mean to Ben. Even though the reveal that Ben died seems like an afterthought, Joey's reaction seems understandable even if the scene is awkward and his delivery hammy. Then it all goes downhill when Joey leaves and starts sobbing on the stairwell for an uncomfortable length of time (so much so it makes you wonder if he had sexual feelings towards Ben too) and then skateboards off into the sunset with "vacation girlfriend." Roll credits.

It feels like the writers didn't know how to end the movie and felt it was too banal and bland. The book-stealing should've been thrown out or changed to something believable, they shouldn't have had so many scenes of Ben being annoying to his family, they should've either got rid of Vlad or made him more realistic, they should've at least told what happened to Ben and they should've ended it before the godawful stairwell crying scene. This movie really could've been so much better.
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6/10
Lithgow and Molina Shine in Downbeat Story
dglink17 September 2014
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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7/10
poignant, bittersweet and touching comic drama
gregking422 August 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Love is indeed strange, elusive and even painful at times. New York filmmaker Ira Sachs often explores queer politics and gay themes, but this poignant, bittersweet and touching comic drama is arguable his most accessible film yet. And it is certainly a nice change of pace from his more confronting and semi-autobiographical Keep The Lights On. Love Is Strange benefits enormously from a pair of winning, sympathetic performances from John Lithgow (3rd Rock From The Sun, etc) and Alfred Molina (Maverick, etc) as Ben and George, a gay couple who have lived together for nearly four decades. But when they get married their circumstances change drastically. George loses his job as a music teacher at a Catholic school, and the pair are forced to leave the apartment that has been their home for the past two decades. While they look for a new apartment, the pair are forced to temporarily live apart. Ben moves in with the family of his nephew Elliott (Darren Burrows), and shares a bunk bed with their teenage son Joey (Charlie Tahan from Charlie St Cloud, etc), who resents the loss of his privacy. George sleeps on the couch of their neighbours, a couple of NY cops whose hard partying is at odds with his quiet lifestyle. The two find it hard to adjust, and living apart puts further strain on their relationship. Sachs looks at themes of family, relationships, gay marriage, and explores how Ben and George cope with their late life crisis and changed circumstances. Marisa Tomei is good as Elliott's wife, a writer who finds Ben's presence too much of a distraction from her own work. However, there are a number of subplots woven throughout the narrative that are not entirely satisfactorily resolved, the complex relationship between Joey and fellow student Vlad (Eric Tabach in his film debut). Sach's direction is sensitive and subtle, but it is the strong performances of Lithgow and Molina that give the film its sense of heart.
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2/10
This love is boring.
Quietb-19 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Here's a look at two older guys that get married and encounter some problems. Seems the Molina character looses his job so the Catholic Church is the only hint of a villain in the movie. The scenes with Lithgow together with Molina work best, when separated everything feels contrived redundant and boring. The Chopin music helps but it's not enough to save a poorly written and directed movie.

About an hour into the movie the Molina character at a party tells what has happened to that point. It is only useful if you came in an hour late or were stuck in a popcorn line during the movie. The over long blackout after the walk into the subway to signify a death was almost humorous. Thankfully we were spared the funeral scene. There is a tacked on ending where a nephew and his girlfriend ride way too long off into the sunset. It's the wrong ending for this movie as it is not their story.

There's a mention of a Busby Berkeley movie, any of which would be a better choice over this. Here's a small movie that doesn't need to be seen in a theater. Watch it at home on the sofa and expect to fall asleep.
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3/10
Thin fare.
pjtgc-119-67898415 October 2015
I liked this movie for about thirty minutes after I viewed it. The performances are stunning, particularly Molina and Lithgow. But as I thought it over, the story as a whole was contrived and very thin. It is a very superficial movie which appears to be deeper because of the excellent if badly presented performances. I blame the writer/director. I won't say what, but the most important part of the story of Lithgow's and Molina's characters is simply missing - what was left out, only to be referred to in a wrenching transition, was the meat of the story and should and could have been the movie. Watch the movie for the performances, but don't bother with the story, it is a poor one - so much so that in the end, for me, dissatisfaction with the writing and directing ruined even the performances.
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7/10
Love may be strange, but gay people are just like the rest of us
brchthethird9 February 2015
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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4/10
Film for straight audiences who want to feel good about watching an apparent gay-themed film
scootmandutoo19 September 2014
Warning: Spoilers
My partner and I just saw this. Dental visits are less painful.

Let me get to the good first. I will keep it brief. The actors were competent. Performances were good, if not especially outstanding.

Now, getting to the header, how do I know this movie was for straight audiences? Because the big payoff is all about the son and his end-of- film endless crying jag....after which he skateboards off into the sunset with (drumroll please)...a girl! See, he's not gay, after all. Whew...what a relief for the parents.

Seriously, who cared if the son was gay or straight? Gay people certainly don't. Yet, this was the big surprise ending?

There are so many undeveloped characters and the movie is so incredibly slow. How slow? Well, even before his injury it took John Lithgow forever to eat anything. He was so glacially slow and disoriented throughout, I was beginning to think that they were going to allude to the development of Alzheimer's. But no, the character was just very slow. And boring. And again...that crying scene?! Well, the kid now has something for his acting reel.

One more thing, they introduce Lithgow's apparent serial infidelity in a closing scene. I still do not get what the point of that revelation was. Gay couples are capable of monogamy. It added nothing to this film. Nada.

Sorry, but this was possibly the most annoying end to an alleged glbt- themed flick that I have ever seen. And it's not as if it was especially wonderful up to that point, anyway.
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2/10
Boring
MikeyB17938 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
Not much to say about this romantic movie with a capital B for Boring. I mean really, its' just a family drama about mostly mundane things. It just drags on to a very tedious conclusion.

Aside from a few instances of conflict, which momentarily grab your attention, there is no sense of any interaction at all. The only conflict (the rooftop scene) comes from the teenage boy whose room is inhabited by John Lithgow. This aspect is left unresolved. One tends to drift into sleep-land as conversations in humdrum scenes keep languorously succeeding each other.

The energy level in this film ranges from 0 to 1 (no I am not a watcher of action films). It occurred to me, as I was viewing, that Woody Allen, is far more successful in making captivating family and romantic dramas.
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4/10
Belies its title
Shuggy16 January 2015
"Love is Strange" seems intended as a slice-of-life, but it's more frustrating than intriguing, inspiring or uplifting.

While there's nothing to complain of about the mise en scène or the acting, it doesn't add up to anything. Most of the main events happen offstage, so it neither shows nor tells, just implies.

Many loose ends are never tied up. What happens to Vlad? What happens to Elliot and Kate's marriage? The pace is slow enough that the alternative movies running in your head are more interesting that what's on screen. There's sexual tension between George and Ian: what if they had a fling? How would Ben react? What if Joey WAS gay? What if Ben tried to help him come to terms with that but was misunderstood, with catastrophic consequences? What if Vlad was and Joey was just going along with him? Or if they really were doing drugs - and Ben found evidence?

What happens about the letter George is composing or rehearsing while Dovie Currin is playing the "Raindrops" prelude (and much better than he gives her credit for)? Does he send it to the parents of his former pupils? Do they petition the school, or demonstrate? We never know.

But my biggest disappointment was that the film completely belied its title: None of the love in the film is strange in any way. Love often IS strange, and some very good movies have illustrated that.

I'd call this a broken movie. I suggest you watch until they say goodbye outside the Waverley Diner and Ben goes down to the subway. What follows adds nothing.
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10/10
"...After 39 years it's hard to fall asleep without you"
derrickluciano7 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
And that's very true. I experienced that during my numerous out of town work without my partner of 30 years and it takes me a bit of time to sleep. Moreso with newly married couple Ben and George who are pushed to separately live with their friends and relatives due to financial difficulties. George was fired from work because the "bishop wasn't happy".

So what do I like about the film:

a. It's subtle yet so powerful. There are quiet scenes that evoke so much complex emotions. Like when George pauses to think while tutoring a student. Or when George missing Ben, goes at his place one night and hugs him while sobbing. Or when Joey breaks down at the stairway near the end. These are moments that kinda grip you and make you feel what they are feeling.

b. I'd like the director showing us slices on stages of life rather than highlights. Like not showing the actual accident or death scene. Making it less melodramatic but still powerful.

c. Love the Chopin music which goes with the flow of the scenes. And you can't go wrong with Chopin.

d. The complex interplay on living with relatives and friends.

e. And most of all, the natural acting between the leads. Looks like they are a real couple who lived together for many years.

No political agenda here. Just a memento of real love between two individuals.
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6/10
Nearly as good as the 1937 version, Make Way For Tomorrow Dir. By Leo McCarey!
larry41onEbay31 January 2015
My wife and I were both moved and touched by this sweet sad drama of romance near the end of life's long and winding road. When a couple really complete each other's life it is a joy even when things turn rougher because that very important someone is there, next to you to divide the sorrows and multiply the joys.

But when circumstances beyond their control force them to separate briefly friends and families who offered to help become tested, tried and like most of us will fail at some point.

We are big fans of John Lithgow (we grew up near his home town and he's a local legend) and the great Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei. The script, direction and performances were all like the music and art used in the film – wonderfully filling in all the colors of life.

As for it being a remake, the great comedy director Leo McCarey (Laurel & Hardy films, the Cary Grant screwball comedy The Awful Truth, An Affair To Remember, etc.) wanted to make a film about the problems of old age. Here is the plot description of Make Way For Tomorrow (1937), "At a family reunion, the Cooper clan find that their parents' home is being foreclosed. "Temporarily," Ma moves in with son George's family, Pa with daughter Cora. But the parents are like sand in the gears of their middle-aged children's well regulated households. As the days become weeks and then months, everyone gets stretched until they must except being separated permanently and go out for one last fling before saying goodbye forever."

Both films are wonderful dramas that ask us to treat each other with more compassion and civility – and to be prepared for the end.

Leo McCarey was nominated for an Oscar eight times and when he won Best Director in 1937 for The Awful Truth in his acceptance speech he said thank you but it was for the wrong film (meaning he thought he should have won for the more important feature Make Way For Tomorrow.)

I recommend seeing them both and then go and hug everyone you know and cherish while you can.
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8/10
a brutally honest take on senility and appeals for an authentic mutual esteem
lasttimeisaw21 May 2015
This Ira Sachs' follow-up of his strained relationship chronicle KEEP THE LIGHTS ON (2012) revolves around a senior gay couple in Manhattan, New York, Ben (Lithgow), an obscure painter and George (Molina), a music teacher in a Catholic school, after gay-marriage has been legalised, they finally tie the knot after 39 years together, their love has been blessed by friends and family, but the segueing repercussions cost George his post due to the obvious prejudice among those religious conservatives, and the unforeseen financial plight forces them to sell the apartment and live with their relatives and friends, yet as none of them have extra rooms for both, so they have to spend the transitional time separately.

The story unwinds with both encounter difficulties in their provisional homes, Ben is living with his nephew Elliot (Burrows), a photographer, his writer wife Kate (Tomei) and their teenage son Joey (Tahan), his inconvenient intrusion already ruffles Joey's feathers as they have to share a same room with a double bunk, moreover, the co-existence slowly but surely also tests the limitation of Kate's patience. In another side, George becomes a couch-surfer in their friends Ted (Jackson) and Roberto (Perez)'s apartment, however, the unashamed cliché is they are frequent home-party throwers, even when they have a friend sleeping on their couch.

Their situations are not too rosy, but admirably Sachs doesn't plunge the usual melodrama between them, after being each other's soul-mate and life-partners for such a long time, they reach the mutual coordination of understanding, respect and support, the story itself transcends the gay setting and sublimates into a hymn to universal love which only those very few can actually acquire in reality. Thanks to Lithgow and Molina's unforced but extremely moving performances, which potently fuels the final revelation with utter poignancy, and pretty unusually, in an extraordinary way. Rather than a tearjerker, the film more inclines to be a worshipper of love and respect even when in the time of loss, through a subplot of Joey's own wayward pubertal rebellion, we have the chance to glance at the real problem inside straight people's gay-friendly facade, the fight for equality and against discrimination is a protracted battle and there is no time for slackening.

I should also name-check Tomei for her brilliant turn as Kate, gallantly runs the full gamut from the one who gifts them an affecting ode about how Ben and George are exemplars of love for her and Elliot, to her final scene of a hysterical flare-up to vent her frustration and dissatisfaction, she is truly amazing.

Under the pervasion of classical music pieces, LOVE IS STRANGE is alternately heart- warming, heart-touching and heart-rending, Ira Sachs perfects his narrative strategy with more self-control and less on-the-nose intensity, and it turns out to be an unheralded gem not just from the viewpoint of LGBT genre, but a brutally honest take on senility and appeals for an authentic mutual esteem among each and every soul on the earth.
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5/10
This Story Made a Much Better Film in 1937
evanston_dad20 May 2015
A modern day version of the 1937 Leo McCarey film "Make Way for Tomorrow," with a gay married couple in place of the elderly husband and wife who served as the focus of the earlier film. "Love Is Strange" has two wonderful actors at its center -- John Lithgow and Alfred Molina -- but they're not convincing as a gay couple, coming across instead like old college buddies crashing with one another. The film is too morose and dreary by far -- the saving grace of McCarey's film is the final third, when the elderly parents embark on one final day of being together before being separated indefinitely (perhaps forever), and they open a window for the viewer on to the rich history they share and which their selfish children have no knowledge of. The film is still tragic, but the tragedy is tempered a bit by the fact that these two people have enjoyed a life together and built a world of memories with each other that no one can take from them. No such message is conveyed in "Love Is Strange"; the result is more depressing than it is bittersweet.

"Love Is Strange" is yet one more cautionary tale for those who want to remake classics. Don't bother if you're going to make a film that is inferior in every way to the original.

Grade: B-
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7/10
Love is what?
IOBdennis9 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
That title is the worst of a bland movie. Why is love strange? Because it involves two geriatric men? Some of the story just didn't make sense, e.g. the couple's adamant decision to settle for their living arrangements after the employment episode. Hey, you could rent a studio walk-up in Bayonne, for God's sake! But at least then you'd be together. And couldn't a lawsuit have been brought up for job discrimination? Not knowing the legalities of their relationship in New York, at least the writers could have thrown in a line or two just to clarify that issue. But yeah, as a former New Yorker, I'd balk at having to live in Poughkeepsie, too. But things just didn't connect. Some scenes were intrusive, e.g. the letter-writing to the students. And the last very LONG LONG skateboarding in the final scene with that sun-going-down sepia tone. Was that manipulative or what?

The performances of Lithgow and Molina, however, are very subtle and nuanced. They're worth the watch. And Marisa Tomei does a nice, supporting role. Darren Burrows as Eliot just didn't gel for me at all. Eric Tabach as Vlad was quite good. Charlie Tahan was annoying. Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez seemed to walk through the movie, as did John Cullum. Granted, the latter 3 had small roles, but I guess when you see an actor with a name, you expect something a little bit more.

I wanted to like this film, because of the subject matter: an old gay couple facing senior problems. But I felt the director pulling and pushing, and not letting the story happen.
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5/10
Fine acting largely wasted on uninteresting material
richard-178716 January 2015
Warning: Spoilers
I imagine we're supposed to feel sorry for the older gay couple at the center of this movie. One, Lithgow, is evidently living on a modest pension from some sort of never-specified work. The other, Molina, works as a church music director. After 39 years of living together, they take advantage of the possibility of same-sex marriage in New York and get married. Molina's character loses his job as a result of the publicity. They must sell their apartment in New York because, presumably, they can no longer meet the mortgage payments.

One might ask 1) did they not have mortgage insurance, which would have made sense for a couple of modest means and insecure employment? how had they been able to get a mortgage without it? 2) did they have no savings? They went on a honeymoon trip to Petra, but now they have no money? They have a nice, well-decorated apartment. Have they been living hand-to-mouth all these years? We aren't supposed to ask those questions, it appears, perhaps because the answers would make the couple appear less sympathetic.

While they are hunting for cheaper living quarters, Molina moves in with their downstairs neighbors, who turn out to be very noisy - how could he not have known that before living just above them? Lithgow moves in with his nephew, the latter's wife and son. The nephew, it turns out, is a workaholic and is never there. He also seems very distant from his wife, even when they are in bed together. The wife can't express her frustrations when Lithgow consumes the time she would like to spend writing. (Why can't she just nicely explain that to him?) The son is always on edge, and has a never-defined relationship with another boy that revolves around stealing works of 19th century French literature from a bookstore or library. (One of the books is Cyrano de Bergerac. I would be THRILLED to have students so interested in French literature that they were willing to steal it so that they could read it in French.) Lithgow is not a particularly considerate lodger. They all get on each others' nerves, in part because they aren't good at expressing their emotions verbally. Notice the contrast with Molina's hosts, who are very verbal and just generally noisy.

That's pretty much the movie, folks.

Lithgow's character finally dies, evidently of heart problems. (It's not explained.) We get a strange scene when the French-reading boy comes to visit Molina in his new apartment and talks about Lithgow. Then he goes out in the hall and cries. Why? He certainly never showed any interest in, much less affection for, Lithgow's character while he was alive.

So we end with a minor mystery and some very nice background music, which was, frankly, my favorite thing in the movie.

It's rough, if you're used to living with someone, to have to live apart.

It's rough, if you're used to having the peace and quiet of your own space, to have to live with others with different lifestyles and you have no space of your own.

I appreciate that.

Then again, they could have lived together had they been willing to stay with the relative in Pooghkeepsie. Pooghkeepsie, evidently, is worse than going through what they went through separated. I don't understand that. But, if I recall, this started out as a Broadway play. Perhaps that makes sense to the NYC theater-going crowd.

There was not enough to get me involved in this movie, even though the acting by Lithgow and especially Molina was very good.

There just wasn't enough to this script. The characters weren't sufficiently developed, there was a lack of well-developed scenes, etc.

Talent largely wasted.
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10/10
Hauting
Artbrute8 January 2015
Haunting is the best word to describe this film. As I was seeing it I often wondered about how it would end and probably that was the part I didn't like so much. However, I do understand what the director meant to say even in words that were not much. Alfred Molina and John Lithgow are amazing in every second. You almost feel their chemistry. I do hope this film makes it to the Oscars and they can award these two amazing people. What fantastic actors! So, once again... haunting. I saw it last week and I am still thinking about it, about life, humans, people who are cruel,getting older, being alone. It's all very simple as the music of Chopin which is there to guide all the story from the beginning to the end.
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7/10
Strong Performances Help What Could Have Been An Average Film
comicman11719 November 2014
Love Is Strange is a good quiet film that's elevated by strong performances from its leads (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) and supporting cast. The film is also a well-made "gay" film, dealing with the subject of same-sex relationship without making the characters straight-up stereotypes. Love Is Strange is a good movie overall, even if the film is real nothing special.

Love Is Strange tells the story of gay lovers, Ben played by John Lithgow a painter and George played by Alfred Molina a music teacher, who finally tie the knot after living together for some time. Only things get complicated when George is fired from his position as a music teacher. This forces the two to live separately from each other, with George living with two cops played by Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez), and Ben living with his nephew played by Darren Burrows, wife played by Marisa Tomei, and their son played by Charlie Tahan, as the two try to look for cheaper housing.

The two lead performances by Lithgow and Molina feel very natural and real as does their chemistry as lovers. Even though the two share little scenes together (being separated throughout most of the film), you can tell that Ben and George are genuinely in love with each other. The scene where the two hug is quite touching. While Marisa Tomei gives a natural well layered, good performance as a mother who feels a little bit disconnected from her family. Her best scene is when she complains to her husband about how he's too soft on his uncle Ben. Darren Burrows is also another good standout as Joey, Tomei's son in the film who has a bit too many problems that he's hiding from his family.

Some of the shots in Love Is Strange are nice. The opening sequence with a shot of the legs of the two main characters (Ben and George) sleeping together in their bed was well done. While there's another nice quiet scene where Ben is shown painting. The short scene consists of little dialogue and just music played in the background.

Love Is Strange doesn't really tackle the gay subject matter all that much, but it doesn't play it up either. Very few times throughout the film is the word gay actually said, and because of this, I appreciate Love Is Strange.

One of the best things about the film it's score. Although the score is very limited and small, it consists of classical music, primarily that of a piano. This helps to give certain scenes a nice feeling. Additionally, the use of classical music in the film makes sense considering that George is a music teacher himself.

Love Is Strange is a very quiet and understated film. While not perfect, the film is helped by its lead performances and is overall enjoyable to watch.
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7/10
Nothing Strange About This
ferguson-613 September 2014
Greetings again from the darkness. In a remarkable opening 6 to 8 minutes, we see John Lithgow and Alfred Molina prepare for, execute, and celebrate their official marriage after almost 40 years together. During this sequence, we quickly understand that Ben (Lithgow) is the emotional one, and George (Molina) is the pragmatic, balanced one. The brief ceremony is filled with love, admiration and happiness, and leaves us with no doubt that these two are dedicated to each other.

Director Ira Sachs (Married Life, 2007) also co-wrote the script with Mauricio Zacharias, and the film excels while Lithgow and Molina are on screen together. It comes across as a contemporary version of the 1937 Leo McCarey film Make Way For Tomorrow (with Beulah Bondi) and highlights the obstacles faced by an elderly couple who face financial hardships, New York real estate misery, and the not-so-welcome generosity of friends and family.

The gay component is not played up, rather the story is told in straight-forward manner as the couple is split up, and deals with loneliness and unease as they feel out of place living in a party house with friends (Molina) and sharing a bunk bed with a typically awkward teenage boy played by Charlie Tahan. The boy's parents are Marisa Tomei and Darren Burrows, who face their own marriage and parental issues.

The happiness of the opening wedding ceremony quickly dissipates into misery for all characters. The only happy people are the grown men playing a Game of Thrones board game. Literally everyone else is unhappy, or at least disinterested.

Although conflict is ever-present, the Catholic Church is the closest to a real villain. John Curran plays a Priest in the terrific scene in which Molina is fired (because of his wedding) from his Catholic School teaching job. The poor town of Poughkeepsie takes a couple of shots as well, but mostly it's the pent-up frustrations of Tomei, the passive-aggressive approach of a few other characters, and the crazy teenage mood swings of Tahan's character that keep Ben, George, and we as viewers quite uncomfortable. See this one for the performances of Lithgow and Molina, and for the beautiful Chopin piano throughout.
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