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LOVE IS STRANGE

SYNOPSIS: After New York partners of 39 years Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) 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.

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Endearingly performed by Alfred Molina (as George) and John Lithgow (as Ben) as two ageing New York lovers who finally marry, Love Is Strange might have been more aptly titled Love Is Mellow, as Ira Sachs explores a mature age relationship that is placed under stress by the couple having to live with other people - separately. The fact they are gay is almost immaterial to the film's themes and certainly has little to do with the story beyond their marriage being the trigger for their unhappiness when the Catholic school fires George, as per the regulations to which George signed up.

This action is not utilized as the expected trigger for a rant against the school's bigotry yet the consequences are quite uncomfortable for the two men as they have to sell up their apartment, rent modestly - if they can. But it's in the interregnum that the story takes place, when home billeted among family, they discover that not only do they intrude on their hosts, their hosts intrude on their space and sensibilities.

Marisa Tomei is excellent as the writer who is a reluctant host to house guest Ben and Chjarlie Tahan is perfectly cast as her complicated teenage son, Joey, with Darren Burrows nicely edgy as her husband Elliot.

The film is paced leisurely and rather sentimental, and precious little dramatic tension is developed beyond the somewhat small scale impact of their middle class discomfort. Still, it's well observed and its benignly voyeuristic approach - as we follow the couple into foreign territory - serves its purposes.

The lack of a strong story and the unsatisfactory nature of the ending detracts from the film's appeal, despite its urbane and sophisticated tone, not to mention its reliance on a 'delicate' soundtrack (no original composer credited).

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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 0
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 1

LOVE IS STRANGE (M)
(US, 2014)

CAST: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Charlie Tahan, Harriet Harris, Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez, Christina Kirk, Tatyana Zbirovskaya, Olya Zueva, Eric Tabach

PRODUCER: Lucas Joaquin, Lars Knudsen, Ira Sachs, Jayne Baron Sherman, Jay Van Hoy

DIRECTOR: Ira Sachs

SCRIPT: Ira Sachs, Mauricia Zacahrias

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Christos Voudouris

EDITOR: Alfonso Goncalves, Michael Taylo

MUSIC: various

PRODUCTION DESIGN: Amy Williams

RUNNING TIME: 94 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Rialto

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: March 19, 2015







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