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Judy Thorburn's Movie Reviews

Love is Strange | John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Christina Kirk, Marisa Tomei | Review

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4sm The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD Judy Thorburn

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4lg The Flick Chicks movie rating for this film is GOOD

 


Love is Strange

John Lithgow and Alfred Molina portray a loving gay couple whose relationship is challenged when life throws them an unfortunate curveball.

Love is Strange, directed with sensitive precision by Ira Sachs (“The Delta,” “Married Life”) who cowrote the script with Mauricio Zacharias, starts on a joyous, upbeat note.  After 39 years as a committed couple, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) tie the knot in a ceremony in front of a group of supportive friends and family.

Instead of living happy ever after, things take a turn for the worse once the priest that runs the Catholic school where George teaches music hears the news.  Since the Church is vehemently opposed to same sex marriage, George is subsequently fired from his job.  No longer able to afford their cozy coop apartment in Manhattan's West Village that they've lived in for 20 years, 71 year old Ben, a retired painter, and breadwinner George, are forced to sell it and look for temporary lodging until George can find another job.

Although Ben's niece (Christina Kirk) graciously offers to take them in at her home in Poughkeepsie, the men turn her down feeling it's too far from the city. Instead, George moves in with his former downstairs neighbors, a younger gay couple that are cops (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez), where he sleeps on the sofa, and Ben goes to live with his nephew, workaholic filmmaker Elliot (Darren E. Burrows) and his novelist wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) and their teenage son Joey (Charlie Tahan) in Brooklyn.

What follows are the trials and tribulations the newlyweds must face as they struggle trying to adjust to their separation and different living arrangements. Ben has to sleep on the top of a bunk bed in moody nephew Joey's room, which doesn't sit well for the teenager who craves privacy.  During the day, while Kate is trying to concentrate on writing her next novel, talkative Ben keeps interrupting her train of thought. As a much needed diversion from his woes, Ben finds comfort in painting scenes from the rooftop of his nephew's building.  Meanwhile, George is having a hard time dealing with and fitting in with the cops in their small apartment as they seem to run a continual lively party filled to the limit with friends.

Ben eventually makes a keen observation, “When you’re living with people, you know them better than you care to”. Ain't that the truth.

Set to a delicate Chopin music soundtrack, Love is Strange is a bittersweet love story, highlighted by totally convincing, brilliant, understated performances from the two leads, who have amazing, natural chemistry.  You truly believe the love they share and their attempt to maintain their dignity as unfair circumstances interrupt their life.

The problem with the script is the inclusion of a few subplots involving Joey's Russian born best friend Vlad (Eric Tabach) and stolen books, which are left unresolved. Aside from that, Lithgow, Molina, and their strong supporting cast bring a heightened credibility to what ultimately is a moving and memorable tribute to the unyielding power of love. There is nothing strange about that.

 

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