By Max Havey
Director Ira Sach’s latest offering, Love is Strange is slow and deliberate, but undeniably charming.
The film centers around George (Alfred Molina) and Ben (John Lithgow), an aging gay couple who, after having lived together for 40 years in Manhattan, finally decide to get married. Though this is a happy occasion, George soon finds that getting married to his partner causes him to lose his job at a private catholic school because it goes against what the archdioceses believes, even though his sexual orientation was never a secret to his colleagues and the parents of his students. Because they can no longer afford it, the two men sell their apartment and have to stay separately at the homes of friends and family while they search for a new place to live. They have deal with the ideas of burdening their loved ones and not being together after 40 years, even though they are married.
The plot of Love is Strange is not really the its strongest aspect. The story starts off rather straightforward, but around the middle it gets kind of muddled as more subplots are introduced and are subsequently left unresolved at the end of the film. I feel like there was more to this at one time, but it has since been cut out.
This is not to say that these plots aren’t compelling, because they are. It is more that so much of the film’s energy is focused on these subplots, that it feels like a waste not to resolve them. This film is not even that long either, clocking in at only 98 minutes. There is definitely room improvement in this film’s story.
While the story of this film is lacking, the performance nearly make up for it. It is great to see both John Lithgow and Alfred Molina as the leads in a movie, after having bit parts in films like Rise of the Planet of Apes and Boogie Nights respectively, and their chemistry is undeniable. They make the audience believe that they really have been together for 40 years and that they do love each other more than anything else. Marisa Tomei is also great as Ben’s niece, who has hard time dealing with him being around all the time, while also trying to understand her moody teenage son and her husband who is never around.
I enjoyed Love is Strange for what it was. Though, I do think aspects were lost on me, mainly because I am not the target demographic, seeing as I am a 20-year-old living in the Midwest. I say this because this film is very much a “New York” movie that is directed at people much older than me. It is similar to the way I felt about Nicole Holofcener’s Enough Said last year. It is a movie I enjoyed, but I felt my parents would enjoy much more. Though it may not be out for much longer, Love is Strange is definitely worth seeing, especially if you are over the age of 40.