Yet perhaps the most beautifully understated and humane of them all is Love is Strange, the new film by Ira Sachs (whose 2012 film Keep the Lights On achieved a similar, if more tragic, effect). Sachs treats his characters as human, first and foremost, their sexuality almost beside the point save for one key moment.
|Left to right: John Lithgow as Ben and Alfred Molina as George Photo by Jeong Park, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics|
Ben goes to live with his nephew and his family, whose despondent teenage son takes instant umbrage with being displaced from his room. His nephew's wife, Kate (Marisa Tomei), who was so supportive at their wedding, suddenly finds herself exasperated with Ben's constant chatter as she tries to work from home. George's situation isn't much different, finding himself in a frequently crowded apartment where constant parties and gatherings threaten to run him out entirely. Forced apart for the first time in their lives and quickly overstaying their welcomes, Ben and George must get used to a life once lived together suddenly lived apart.
|John Lithgow as Ben Photo by Jeong Park, Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics|
It's unlikely that you will see a more gentle or humane film in a theater this year. It lilts along at the pace of life, buoyed along by Chopin's Nocturne No. 2 in E Flat Major and the incredibly lived in performances of Lithgow and Molina. It truly feels as if they have been together for nearly 40 years. Both men have had long, illustrious careers in both film and theatre, but they turn in arguably career best work in Love is Strange. Their performances are tender, honest, and fully realized in ways that movie characters rarely are. Even if the film sometimes feels slight or inconsequential, there is always a palpable current of humanity pulsing beneath the surface. It's a wonderful work, one filled with deeply felt observations about life and love. Sachs has crafted something universal and resonant, a bittersweet, funny, and ultimately moving film that shows that even though love may be strange, it's never anything short of beautiful.
GRADE - ★★★½ (out of four)
LOVE IS STRANGE | Directed by Ira Sachs | Stars John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Charlie Tahan | Rated R for language | Now playing in select cities. Opens today, 9/19, in Charlotte, NC.