“Love Is Strange”: A Long-Term Gay Couple Face Obstacles

[The] ironic title refers to all tough relationships, including the one that the characters have with New York City. Joe McGovern, ew.com, about Love Is Strange

Love Is Strange, directed by Ira Sachs and starring John Lithgow and Alfred Molina, tells an unusual story and does so in a way that’s earning many accolades from critics and other viewers, including me.

The plot according to Time Out:

Chatty painter Ben (Lithgow) and his music-teacher partner of nearly four decades, George (Molina), tie the knot in an idyllic, understated ceremony…George’s Catholic academy is forced to fire him and, only weeks after celebrating, the couple find themselves cash poor, unable to maintain a mortgage and out of their elegant apartment. ‘Are you guys getting divorced already?’ jokes the assembled clan when they break the news and ask for temporary shelter. Ben goes to his nephew’s family (and a teen’s bunk bed) while George crashes on the couch of a younger gay cop’s boisterous party pad.

The trailer:

BEN AND GEORGE

Boyd van Hoeij, Hollywood Reporter: “Sachs and co-writer Mauricio Zachariasget the familiar humor and half-evoked memories that are so typical of long-term relationships exactly right, and a short scene in a historic gay bar is not only funny and real but also casually reveals some of the core values that have kept this couple going for all these years.”

Peter Debruge, Variety: “More important than the challenges of living with others is the enormous difficulty of trying to live apart, however temporary the arrangement. In depicting that struggle — illustrated through lovesick evenings spent alone and unapologetically affectionate reunions — ‘Love Is Strange’ poignantly makes the case for the validity of Ben and George’s relationship.”

SOME OF THE SUPPORTING CHARACTERS

Peter Debruge, Variety: “Although the couple’s friends and family are far from homophobic, living in such close quarters certainly strains their tolerance of one another. As Ben confides to George by phone one evening, ‘Sometimes when you live with people, you know them better than you care to.'”

Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out: “…(I)t’s sullen child actor Charlie Tahan who nearly steals the picture in a quietly devastating climax, a private breakdown that suggests Ben and George may have affected everyone more deeply than they know.”

SELECTED REVIEWS

Andrew O’Hehir, Salon: “…’Love Is Strange’ is a blend of gentle comedy and romantic tragedy, a subtly woven multigenerational tapestry about love and sorrow, the families we’re born with and the ones we make for ourselves, the things that pass away forever and the things that endure and are passed along. There’s nothing particularly gay or straight about those questions, which I suppose is the point.”

Dana Stevens, Slate: “Much has been written about these two actors’ physical comfort with one another, as if to express surprise that two straight men would be able to so convincingly play two highly emo gay guys in love. But Lithgow and Molina play Ben and George with such depth, tenderness, and history that their affection for one another’s bodies (there’s no sex, but loads of snuggling) seems like a natural extension of their pleasure in being together.”

Ann Hornaday, Washington Post: “‘Love Is Strange’ turns out to be a subtle, sidelong coming-of-age and letting-go-of-age story, a lyrical ode to longing and passion that were there all along, had we only noticed. Attention is duly paid in this tender and touching film; the strangest thing about ‘Love Is Strange’ is how completely un-strange it is, from its familiar family dynamics to its exquisite honesty and compassion.”

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