Director: Ira Sachs
Cast: John Lithgow, Alfred Molina and Marisa Tomei
Running Time: 94 minutes
Release Date: February 6th
Music teacher George (Alfred Molina) and retired painter Ben (John Lithgow) have been together almost forty years and are finally able to get married in New York, but not long after they’ve tied the knot, word gets back to the church-run school that George works for and he is promptly fired. Finding themselves no longer able to afford their current apartment, the couple call upon the kindness of their friends and family to put a roof over their heads until they find a new home, so George moves in with a young pair of gay policemen neighbours, while Ben moves in with his nephew’s family.
Finding it difficult to cope in their new surroundings without each other to fall back on, their relationship is put to the test. The younger gays love a good late dinner and all night party much to George’s dismay, while Ben’s nephew’s wife, Kate (Marisa Tomei), finds it difficult to get started on her new novel with the new, distracting addition to their household.
Director and co-writer Ira Sachs previously shone a distinct cinematic slant on gay relationships with his last movie Keep The Lights On, and here he does something similar, bringing together the adorably cute couple of Molina and Lithgow and dropping them into an environment apparently entirely free of homophobia (bar that initial firing).
Throughout there are some gorgeous little moments – the blink-and-you’ll-miss-it look of joy on George’s face when a government official doesn’t bat an eyelid at his sexuality, or Ben’s completely made up story he uses to get some free drinks from the local gay bar, or the purposeful distance between them as they walk on unknown streets during the day – but these are unfortunately too few and far between.
Despite the fantastic performances and believable chemistry between the cast, the entire thing just feels a little too aerated, equally fun and insightful as it is forgettable and insubstantial. At a brief 94 minutes, Sachs still stretches out the story with plenty of montages of Manhattan, the film caught in the updraft of its own whimsy until that lump-in-the-throat ending. While not every ‘old people in love’ film has to take on the depths of Amour, the biggest problem with Love Is Strange is that it feels a little too shallow at times.