I went to see Ira Sachs‘ Love is Strange on Valentine’s Day. Alone. This was a bad idea.
The plot centres around the characters of Ben and George and their extended, loving family. When George loses his teaching job at a Catholic school, the pair are forced to sell their beloved apartment and live separately with different family members. Despite this, of course, bringing to light issues of homophobia, this is not the film’s main focus: the main focus is how people can come together to help each other, with genuine care and compassion.
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina’s film relationship is sensational – their love for each other as well as for their family is perfectly conveyed. This is reflected well in their love of the arts. The first scene opens with the pair’s feet as they lie in bed mirrored by those of the subjects of Ben’s paintings hanging above them. The wedding reception sees the pair play a duet at their piano, surrounded by their family. The film plays out on the backdrop of busy New York streets, with cars and taxis never ceasing to pass by in the background – a potentially hostile landscape which is instead transformed into a haven through compassion and art.
Love is Strange is an exceptional exposition of love which is masterfully understated and commendably nuanced. Passions in this film are portrayed in an incredibly real and touching way, making the characters extremely relatable. This film is life and love-affirming – for this reason, you should probably try to avoid seeing it alone, as I did. You won’t enjoy the pitying looks.