Love is Strange is a lovely and bittersweet tale of an older couple

Film Set - 'Love Is Strange'

‘Love is Strange’ is exactly what you’d expect from an indie movie about an older gay couple – slow but worth it if you like that sort of thing.


Ah, love. Who can say what it is? I’m certainly not about to try. But one thing that is inarguable is that it is something that can be held by people of any age and background. As I’ve said many times before, there are a lot of stories being told about older people and their lives these days, and the trend is unlikely to slow anytime soon. There’s a new wrinkle to the idea though; what about relationships normally only looked at about young people? What about lives that would have been considered taboo (and sometimes still are) a generation ago?

There are real people growing older and falling in love, and just because they may not be the sort usually seen in movies does not mean they do not reflect reality. But there’s more. Society doesn’t make things easy for people with a different sexuality. And people from that or any older generation will always have a disconnect with younger people, regardless of how they are connected or related. When you’re used to doing things a certain way, it can be hard or impossible to adjust. Even if you really want to.

Love is Strange follows an older couple, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), who live in Manhattan and have just gotten married after being together for nearly forty years. So far, nothing’s the matter per se; George’s steady work as a music teacher at a Catholic school support the struggling artist Ben, who hasn’t painted in years. But because they are now “officially” out, George gets fired from his job and the two are forced to find elsewhere to live. And for the first time in four decades, they must live apart. Ben stays with his nephew and his family, including wife Kate (Marisa Tomei) and son Joey (Charlie Tahan), while George finds accommodations from two close friends, a younger gay couple who are also NYPD officers (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez, the younger mirror of Ben and George). Naturally, neither is particularly happy with the situation. Ben’s eccentric behavior clashes with Kate and Joey, slowly falling apart. George is handling things a bit better, but the hard partying lifestyle of his younger friends makes things difficult for him.

One thing that is inarguable is the amazing performances of the two leads..

So this movie is another one of those “slice of life” pictures, a series of events that are important to a few people but not the world. It’s about the life and love of these two people, close despite being very different. The movie works very well for the most part, although there are a few parts in the middle where things drag. As this isn’t one of those “big event” movies, there isn’t that much drama, mostly the slow burn and build of the lives of a couple separated from each other.

Sometimes I felt that the film spent a bit too much time in one scene or another, but pacing is really the only serious complaint I have. This isn’t a movie for fans of serious and hellacious drama or romantic comedy; it’s very low key and carefully measured. But that means it’s also slow at times and requires patience to absorb the meaning. That said, one thing that is inarguable is the amazing performances of the two leads.

Alfred Molina and John Lithgow are tremendous here, although that should be no surprise to any familiar with their work. I wasn’t blown away, but more impressed by the subtle and interesting acting choices made. I personally found George’s story bit more interesting, as sometimes Ben’s strayed a bit too far in cliche for my tastes. So there’s the amazing acting here, at least from the two older gentlemen. The others in the movie are fine, but I wasn’t particularly interested in them anyway.

I liked the direction the movie went; it was unafraid to try things a bit sad and dark at times, but that’s indie films for you. For me, it was a pleasant, enjoyable experience to watch these two and their stories, but I know full well it’s not for everyone. It’s not action packed or bursting with humor, but that’s okay. Not everything has to be the same, after all. And if you really need to watch Guardians of the Galaxy again instead of this, I won’t blame you. But those that are interested in this kind of story will probably love Love is Strange.

Photo Credit: Sony Pictures Classics

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