Love Is Strange Screen 81 of 17 reviews

Love Is Strange

2014

Love Is Strange Poster
  • There are so many good things about this film. It’s a Manhattan romance. It’s a love letter to the rapidly vanishing bohemian and artistic milieu of New York, now priced out of town. It’s a wise description of the ‘make your own family’ culture of some modern lives. It’s a gentle anatomy of the horrors of outstaying your welcome, of being poor, sick and old. And it’s simply one of the best films about a long-term gay relationship ever made.

  • The cinematic image is so inherently powerful that even the seemingly mildest of films can carry the heavy weight of representation. Ira Sachs’s Love Is Strange, for instance, by virtue of its subject matter, is as pointed and political as it is warm and lyrical... Among many other matters, Sachs’s moving new film is concerned with this persistence of such vision: the invisible barriers that remain regardless of how far we’ve come.

  • In movies it's the details that often bring transcendence... Filmmakers discover them by observing how people listen to one another, the way they talk and touch, the pauses that settle unexpectedly between them, the silent private moments. It's a courageous film that's willing to sit in those moments instead of underlining them or hurrying past them, hoping we get the shorthand. "Love is Strange" is a patient film. The emotions it unleashes are enormous.

  • That's the mercurial beauty of Love Is Strange: It's about things that actually matter in life and in a partnership, including the debit column in the checkbook... In the course of an evening, [Ben and George] argue mildly over the interpretation of the music they've just heard; they have a disarmingly direct and tender conversation about infidelity, unlike anything I've ever heard in a movie.

  • Sachs doesn’t subvert his tearjerker enterprise so much as soften and parcel out emotion, empathizing no more with the distraught couple than with their hosts, whose lives are no less inconvenienced, or interesting. And though the conceit would seem to invite overplaying by its headlining hams, Sachs instead elicits their finest work in years, with Lithgow mining deepening fragility, and Molina displaying the somber comportment of a man unrepentantly in love.

  • The film is too intelligent to turn into a sitcom of chafing sexual lifestyles. Rather, Sachs's nuanced theme is privacy, as relatives squirm not at their gentlemanly, staid houseguests but at their loss of space, while the separated lovers feel the awkwardness, too... It's a heartbreaker that Sachs sets their schism right at the moment when Ben's advanced age becomes an issue, cementing Love Is Strange as a sensitive domestic tragedy about the finite nature of any union.

  • With an intimate knowledge of New York, Sachs weaves details of the city in the texture of the two men’s everyday lives, their longing, their sense of loss, their quest to retain their dignity as well as this je-ne-sais-quoi that had made them funny, creative, original and attracted to each other.

  • This is the most alive of the four films [Sachs has] directed (the last, Keep the Lights On, was a different gay romantic tragedy). It operates with a pleasing mix of buoyancy and solemnity. Very quietly, this is a comedy of manners: How do you live with people you love but don’t want to know better than you already do? What results is amusing and sad.

  • [The couple's] ensuing struggle is observed with Sachs’s customary sensitivity; the performances (particularly Marisa Tomei’s, as Lithgow’s put-upon new housemate) brim with warmth and good humour. Yet the drama is so low-temperature that viewers may be tempted to put the couple’s predicament, despite the social injustice from which it stems, in the first world problems bracket.

  • As we see in the film’s latter stages, the A-material here is the relationship between Ben and George, and all the best moments involve their honest, lightly lovey-dovey interactions. The counter-intuitive plot of the film is about what it’s like when these characters are apart. It’s a dramatic equation that Sachs sadly doesn’t manage to solve, but it’s bittersweet fun to watch all the working out he does along the way.

  • Sachs’s movie ends up being a curious picture, what with all New York’s representative types wedged in: the writer who cannot find a quiet corner, the variably Eastern European household help, thieving teenagers, etc. All these act and react just the way you knew they would; their contribution to the movie is, indeed, unfathomable.

  • Sachs’s Love story—which turns on family and community love as much as two-person bonding—builds on authentic, lyrically low-key performances by name brands John Lithgow, Andrew Molina and Marisa Tomei.

  • The awkward-ness that both men consequently face as they adjust to living apart from each other makes "Love is Strange" a charming comedy of manners. But, since the film is essentially about how people show their love for each other in a community of friends, "Love is Strange" is more often a serene drama about accepting people in spite of their most glaring limitations. It's a considerably lighter film than Sachs's earlier tragedies, but just as nuanced, and warm.

  • Writer-director Ira Sachs, in some sense, has made the sort of geronto-centric love story that is the stock in trade of middlebrow art cinema. Making it a gay love story reflects a twist of sorts, although if you observe Love Is Strange with an eye to its generic plot moves and heavy-handed signposting, you'll find that it's as sincerely square and risk-averse as, say, On Golden Pond or The Whales of August or even lighter fare like the recent Le Week-End.

  • I'm theoretically up for a gay-inflected Make Way for Tomorrow - esp. if becoming a burden on reluctant relatives exposes latent homophobia beneath the 'supportive' surface - but this just peters out and becomes maudlin.

  • The basic idea appeals, and I dig the fact that it's a gay couple. But Sachs turns these two men into Martyrs for Love by having their loss of income directly and exclusively triggered by their decision to marry. It's realistic, to be sure, but it's a dramatic sinkhole, because now every minor irritation that might otherwise be attributed to human nature gets filed under "if only the church didn't have a stick up its ass."

  • [The film] immediately fills the couple's lives with distractions and obstacles, first an overcrowded apartment on the day of their wedding, then a series of foster homes as their union is thrown into disarray, the result of a sudden economic downturn. The film ends up suffering from this lack of intimacy, prizing theatrical domestic drama over a more measured portrayal of the difficulties of long-term commitment, a choice which leaves both its characters and the drama itself feeling diminished.

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