There are moments within Love is Strange that capture the beauty of human nature – fleeting points in time encapsulated on celluloid to be witnessed by all. The feeling of naturalness in the performances only enhances those moments. That this is a story about one man’s love for another is neither here nor there. From the outset, we can see the harmonious qualities within George and Ben’s relationship and this can be fully attributed to the wonderous performances of Alfred Molina and John Lithgow.
Their love for each other clearly cannot be matched, but they have a strong bond with their family and friends, this is evident from an early point in the proceedings. Circumstances forced upon them as a result of their marriage tests these bonds and tries their relationship. It is the very dichotomy of their situation that brings into question whether such a committment to each other was worthwhile. That they must deal with matters beyond their control, brought about by their desire to show the world how much they love each other lends a sense of absurdity to their plight.
While Love is Strange captures a period of time within George and Ben’s life together/ apart that seems to span a few months, the structure of the piece (almost) never feels like we, the audience, are being jumped from one moment to the next in a haphazard manner. There is an intimacy to the storytelling which distills this duration, allowing us access to periods within everybody’s lives that sometimes resonate, giving us more insight into the principles’ characters than mere exposition.
Ira Sachs‘ direction and Christos Voudouris‘ cinematography have captured a part of New York City – its residential areas – wonderfully. The Hollywood perception of honking car horns, taxis and steaming manhole covers make way for a less frenetic pace, assuaging notions of a thriving metropolis for one of habitation and home life. It’s out there, there is no doubt – we see it from the rooftop and occasionally dip a toe, but here we are dealing with people and their lives. Location is not always everything.
While Mr. Molina as George and Mr. Lithgow as Ben simply soar in Love is Strange, special mention must also go to the family unit tasked with supporting Ben’s enforced separation from George. Played by the always great to watch Marisa Tomei, Darren Burrows and Charlie Tahan, they are a family with day-to-day issues like any other. Sharing their space with an “outsider” is testing and while most in a similar situation would do the same, being tolerant and mindful of another’s needs stretches their bonds with that person and with each other. All is played out with aplomb. I know Love is Strange was released a little while ago and will probably not be appearing at your local multiplex any more, but should it appear at a cinema “fairly” close to you, please take the time to see it. You will not be disappointed.
Thank you for reading 🙂