Love Is Strange
Director: Ira Sachs
Writer: Ira Sachs, Mauricio Zacharias
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina, Marisa Tomei, Darren E. Burrows, Charlie Tahan, Harriet Sansom Harris, Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez
Part of: identities Festival
Seen on: 15.6.2015
Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina) have been together forever and now, finally, gay marriage has been made legal, so they go for it and celebrate. But their celebration is of short duration since George is fired from his teaching job because of the wedding and Ben’s income isn’t enough to keep the two of them in their apartment. Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Ben moves in with his nephew (Darren E. Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei) and their son (Charlie Tahan), while George finds refuge with their neighbors (Cheyenne Jackson, Manny Perez). But the situation is less than ideal for everybody involved.
Love Is Strange is a nice film with important social commentary, but some pacing issues and an ending at the wrong time.
Love Is Strange packs quite a punch – it starts with the typical “gays can get maried now, discrimination has ended” spiel, and then dismantles it completely. George is fired because he got married – even though he was out all the time and it came as no surprise that he was gay in the first place, getting married to a man means that he isn’t staying in his place and has to be punished. But the film doesn’t stop at discrimination because of sexual orientation: despite having worked all their life and having no children to care for, George and Ben need both of their incomes to be able to afford their apartment, or any apartment really. Even though they seem rather well-off at first, poverty and homelessness is only a step away. And all of their friends and family, all of them not really working class and with income, don’t have the room to take in two people, neatly showing us the precariousness of the middle class that has to fight all the time just to keep their status.
All of that criticism, though, is packaged in a very subtle way, cushioned in a sense of humor and a cloud of empathy for Ben and George personally that makes the tragedy of social circumstances more accessible and real, while hiding it behind a personal story. A balance that Sachs keeps extremely well.
That said, the film did drag a little – there were too many musical interludes in particular. Plus, the film had the perfect ending – George and Ben walking away from the bar together – and then it just continued, arriving at an ending that wasn’t as satisfying and took me by surprise – and not in a good way, as it didn’t fit the rest of the story, I thought – with [SPOILER] Ben’s death that came out of nowhere [/SPOILER].
But since the film handles everything else so well, from cast to the clichés it neatly sidesteps and avoids, those things are easily forgiven.