Ben and George (John Lithgow and Alfred Molina) are a couple forced to make drastic life-adjustments after George loses his job. Until they can find another affordable apartment, George moves in with two young police-officer friends (Cheyenne Jackson and Manny Perez) while Ben ends up across town in Brooklyn with his nephew (Darren Burrows), his wife (Marisa Tomei), and their son. Tensions soon rise as the strains of living with others takes its toll on everyone involved.
After delighting audiences at last year’s London Film Festival, the Ira Sachs and Mauricio Zacharias penned drama finally gets a big release. It’s a fascinating study about people first and foremost. The quirks, routines and mannerisms of everyday life are placed under scrutiny and the results are both heartfelt and hilarious. Love Is Strange really gets to the core of what it’s like to be forced to change your life, especially at an older age.
John Lithgow and Alfred Molina shine as Ben and George. Lithgow frequently steals his scenes as the good-natured but somewhat oblivious Ben. But it’s Molina who hands in a performance of consummate strength and restraint. His character is wonderfully fleshed out and a joy to watch. New York also acts as a wonderful backdrop to their relationship, providing a fitting canvas for their story to unfold.
The supporting cast are great too with Marisa Tomei delivering a very cultured portrayal of a frustrated in-law. Darren Burrows bounces off this performance as her husband – a man who is stuck between a sentimental obligation to help out his uncle and the rising strains of his daily family life. Cheyenne Jackson does well as a young policeman who lets George stay with him. The generational gap is wonderfully handled by Jackson too, as his constant parties and get-togethers conflict with the mild sensibilities of George just wanting a quiet night.
Truthful, funny and very astutely observed, Love Is Strange is a bittersweet and very poignant drama with plenty going for it. With Lithgow and Molina on this kind of masterful form, it’s a great character-study that never over complicates the situation or feels the need to manufacture fake sentiment. Instead, it’s an honest and heartfelt account about the ups and downs we experience in life.