Two straight men, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play the part of a gay married couple very convincingly in Love Is Strange. So convincingly, you’ll probably go on the interweb highway to see if they really are a couple.
We at Purple Revolver will save you the bother: they’re both happily married. It has to be said that they do make a good couple together. You can see how they pick each other up when one of them is down, in the sincerity of their embraces.
If one were to categorise this film, it would have to be slice of life. You feel like you are interrupting personal, tender moments whilst you are watching Ben (Lithgow) and George (Molina) discuss and live their lives.
Ben and George have to live apart after George gets sacked from his job at a Catholic school due to their recent marriage. George is more welcome in his temporary abode, living with two gay cops, but they party all the time. Ben is slap bang in the middle of a developing family with a teenage son that is being deprived of his precious privacy as his Uncle Ben (no rice or Spider-Men in this film, even if there is Doc Ock) is sleeping in the bottom bunk in his bedroom.
Regardless of your sexual orientation, the themes explored are universal. Most of us will have experienced having relatives living with us outside of the nuclear family. The tension of the household that would occur is impeccably realised.
One performance that isn’t as strong as the others is that of Elliot (Darren Burrows), husband of Marisa Tomei’s (My Cousin Vinny) Kate. He’s a high-powered businessman, meaning he will naturally be detached from the family dynamic due to him hardly being home. But his implementation of the character takes it far too literally and he just comes across like a plank of wood. Maybe he wants to back in Alaska, back to when he was in TV show Northern Exposure. Wouldn’t begrudge him that as it’s a great show but this film doesn’t deserve such treatment. Looking at his resume, it might just because he ain’t the best actor in town.
Like life, this film doesn’t go where you expect it to. Anyone who likes a modern drama will find reward in Love is Strange. Even if the title is somewhat misleading: nothing very strange happens in relation to Love or anything. Director Ira Sachs embraces the mundane and the ordinary, accompanied by an enchanting piano-led score.