Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Movie Review: "Love Is Strange" (2014)

Movie"Love Is Strange"
Director: Ira Sachs
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 34 minutes
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A couple, Ben (John Lithgow) and George (Alfred Molina), are finally able to get married in the state of New York after nearly four decades of being together. George is a music teacher at a Catholic school and through everyone at the institution was aware that he was gay, when the archbishop learns of his marriage to another man, George is fired. Without enough money to continue paying their mortgage, Ben and George have to sell their New York apartment and move in with friends and family until they can find a new place to rent in the city. George sleeps on the couch of a young gay couple who were neighbors of theirs, and who also have a habit of  partying regularly. Ben goes to live with his nephew, Elliot (Darren Burrows), and sleeps on the bottom bunk of his nephew's son's bed.  

BigJ and I are usually pretty evenly matched when it comes to rating movies. We usually have the same tastes, expectations, and thoughts as the credits are rolling. I contend this is part of why we work so well together as a couple, but that's for another time, folks. This is an example of where he and I disagree a little bit. While we both agree that this movie is a fairly slowly paced character sketch of a gay couple living in New York and that a few of the issues brought up in the film were left unresolved, the emotion and human interest part of this story, for me, weighed much more heavily on my soul than it did on his. It's not to say he didn't care about the story or that he has no soul...but then again, you'd have to ask him about that. *wink wink*

This is a very real life portrayal of two people and the problems they face after committing themselves to one another. There aren't any spaceships, or twists and turns, or green martians walking around, it's a very humanistic story wrought with the emotions that day-to-day life can bring. For the most part, life is rather mundane as people are simply trying to go through the ebbs and flows of life unscathed and emotionally intact. The fact is, life is boring for a lot of people, which is why many won't gravitate towards a film like this. The majority of film goers want to see booms, or scares, and things that will allow them to escape from the everyday banality that reality delivers. Ben was an artist, and George was a music teacher, so that in and of itself isn't all that interesting. Their lives aren't all that compelling compared to others, and the issues they face really aren't much different than the ones we deal with in our own day-to-day lives. Actually, it bears a striking resemblance to when BigJ lost his job a few years ago right after we had gotten married, though we had ample warning of the layoff and were not in danger of losing our abode, but we could identify with their plight. That doesn't necessarily mean it's all that compelling of a subject for a film. BigJ was sort of ambivalent about it in the end.

The story, here, is the focus on a gay couple who spent most of their lives together wishing to be married, only to have it all essentially fall apart once they do. In a way, it's like they were punished all over again when George got fired from his job, yet their love remained, even when they were separated. In the beginning of the film, when Ben and George were preparing to get married, you could see the dynamic between the two men both as individuals and together as a couple. The scene only lasts a few short minutes, but there was a genuine sense of a couplehood there, a sense of not always spoken and not overly showy love between them. John Lithgow and Alfred Molina got along splendidly as a couple and seemed to have a really convincing chemistry. I'm sure this is aided by the facts that they are both good friends in real life. I actually cried a little bit at the end of this scene, not because it was sappy or happy or sad, but because it made me so genuinely anguished to think that some people are denied the right to happiness with their significant other. It's not our mission on this blog to outwardly broadcast our feelings about such things as politics and religion, but since the movie's subject is about gay marriage, in the long run, it doesn't matter to us, and we think if two consenting adults are in love, who are we to say they shouldn't get married?

The issues discussed in this film, as we have mentioned, might seem tedious and overly dramatic to some, but at the end of the day, real life is upsetting, real life is boring, real life is love, but BigJ insists that these things aren't necessarily enough to carry the film all on their own. To me, it was a really sweet portrayal of a couple whose only difference was their sexual orientation, which is hardly a difference to us at all. Their love wasn't a PDA (public display of affection)-fest, and it wasn't the stereotypical flamboyant love story that Hollywood often employs. It was a much more reserved, tender, and real romance. Love comes in all shapes and sizes and forms, and though BigJ wasn't so convinced, I really though this film was important, though a bit slow and boring.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 5.5/10
IMDB's Rating: 7.0/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 97%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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