John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play Ben and George, a long-term gay couple in Manhattan who finally get married, after same-sex marriage laws pass in the state. However, they didn’t expect that George would lose his job teaching music at a Catholic school because of this development, even though everybody at the school long knew he was gay.
Love Is Strange
Directed by Ira Sachs – 2014
Reviewed by Mark Kines
The duo, now too broke to afford the mortgage on their condo, quickly sell the place for a meager profit before they can find decent (and affordable) new digs. Essentially homeless, they are forced to live separately: Ben with his yuppie nephew’s family (Northern Exposure‘s Darren Burrows, Marisa Tomei, and teenage son Charlie Tahan) and George with his hard-partying gay neighbors. That’s all settled in the first 10-15 minutes of the movie, and that’s about it as far as story goes.
In other words, Love Is Strange is a slice of life movie, well-acted and likable, but so subtle as to be, at times, ambiguous. Some viewers might find its aimlessness to be a bit tedious, and I confess that I’m one of them. Others, however, will be charmed by the film’s sweet nature and “European” sensibilities.
The best thing about Love Is Strange, by far, is Lithgow’s and Molina’s chemistry. They bring the film to life whenever they share the screen. Unfortunately, they only have about four or five long scenes together. Perhaps that’s the whole point: that Ben and George are such a charming couple, and so boring when each is on his own, that we feel their frustration in being separated by a ruthless economy and outdated religious doctrine. But that still leaves us with a film we gotta sit through, and I’d have much rather sat through more scenes with Lithgow and Molina cracking wise than sit through all the minutes of Burrows, Tomei and Tahan whining about how hard it is to have Uncle Ben in their house, sipping his tea and getting in the way.
Mark Tapio Kines is a film director, writer, producer and owner of Cassava Films. You can reach Mark here.
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