If you randomly get plopped down in a movie theater, there’s a real good chance that the barrier of faster than light travel has been breached, a car chase will defy the laws of physics or a superhero will fret his place in the world as he reluctantly avenges evil. But just because a movie is down to earth and leaves the screen free of an endless stream of pyrotechnics, doesn’t mean you got to fall all over it to show off your sophistication.
In Love is Strange, John Lithgow and Alfred Molina play an elderly gay couple who finally gets the chance to exorcise their gay marriage rights after 40 years of endearing partnership. They are very sweet and the sentiment is echoed in the glowing approval family showers on them in celebration of their long wait.
Idyllically, Ben (Lithgow) lives for his art and George (Molina) happily lets him hang as he pays the bills as an upscale music teacher in a Catholic School. But even this grounded 2014 film, written by Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias, is subject to a full on blowup.
George suddenly finds himself out of a job as his employer cannot condone the heresy New York State has mandated in their union. Forced to sell their modest condo, George and Ben turn to family to bridge the regrettable happenstance. Of course, they quickly learn that there are limits to the adulation created around extended family - even when the loving bond secures the foundation.
This leaves George to take up with a couple of young gay cops, and a hard day’s relief is never found in the ongoing party. Ben, on the other hand, gets situated in the day to day dynamics of his nephew’s family.
The displaced pain is easy to feel - even if you’ve never had to abscond someone else’s couch and survive among their personal struggles. George seems to have it a little easier as he’s just seen as another guest in the revolving door. But Ben deeply feels the infringement he’s having on his adoptive family.
Marisa Tomei works from home and can’t stop the nonstop chatter, she complains to her husband Eliot, who is played by Darren E. Burrows. At the same time, their son Joey (Charlie Tahan) is not very obliging that some of affections of his artistic friend Vlad (Eric Tabac) are getting deflected to the great uncle. In accordance, the disruption doesn’t get its due from Eliot until 9-5 gives way to the strain the day has already taken on the homebound.
For Ben and George, the separation they endure almost has you collapsing in kind as George crumbles in Ben's arms after another night of revelry is too much to bear. You also can't escape the uncertain desperation any elderly couple faces as the never ending bill cycle provides no quarter - regardless of the hard work a lifetime has accrued.
Yes, it’s all very distressing. In fact, according to Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, “There is such an unassuming artistry and maturity in this sweet, sad, wise movie,” and if you search around, you'll find many like minded positive reviews.
I’m sorry, I just felt extremely bored as the camera followed around all the subtlety and didn't feel the need to pretend my essence was elevated just because the superheroes took the day off.
Still, I waited in hope of an ending that tied together all the monotony and Joey walking into the Manhattan sunset might have been an allusion to the equal footing gay marriage should hold. But without a more exhilarating light show to wake me up, I didn't have the energy or inclination to try and figure it out.